Organic Consumers Association

OCA & Allies Fight DEA in Court over Ban on Hemp Foods

U.S. Newswire

June 26, 2003 Thursday

Two-Year Court Fight Over Hemp Foods in Final Stages;

Hemp Industry Association Files Brief to Keep Hemp Foods Legal


U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit - On Tuesday, June 24, the Hemp Industries Association (HIA), which represents the interests of the Hemp Industry and encourages the research and development of new hemp products, filed a brief in the Ninth Circuit asking for a review of the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) "Final Rule" regarding hemp foods. If this new "Final Rule" were to take effect, it would ban hemp seed and oil and consequently destroy the multimillion dollar hemp food industry. Due to a Court ordered Stay, hemp foods remain perfectly legal to import, sell and consume while the Court hears arguments from the HIA and DEA and renders a decision.

The HIA brief charges that the DEA's "Final Rule" should be invalidated because the agency is exercising arbitrary and capricious authority by attempting to outlaw hemp seed and oil without holding formal hearings on the issue or finding any potential for abuse. Because trace infinitesimal THC in hemp seed is non-psychoactive and insignificant, Congress exempted non-viable hemp seed and oil from control under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), just as Congress exempted poppy seeds from the CSA, although they contain trace opiates otherwise subject to control.

The brief also charges that the DEA acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner in exempting hemp seed mixed with animal feed, although Congress made no such distinction in the CSA. Additionally, the brief elucidates other major failures by the DEA-namely, the lack of hearings on this issue and the failure to comply with the Regulatory Flexibility Act, which requires assessing effects of the proposed change on small businesses.

The brief and other court documents are available at on.pdf Final Legal Schedule in Hemp Food Fight -- July 24, 2003: Deadline for DEA's response to HIA brief. -- August 8, 2003: Deadline for HIA's reply to DEA's response. -- September 17, 2003: Oral Arguments begin in San Francisco, Calif. The "Final Rule," issued on March 21, 2003, is virtually identical to an "Interpretive Rule" issued on October 9, 2001 that never went into effect because of a Ninth Circuit Stay issued on March 7, 2002.

On March 28, 2003 the HIA, several hemp food and cosmetic manufacturers and the Organic Consumers Association petitioned the Ninth Circuit to once again prevent the DEA from ending the legal sale of hemp seed and oil products in the U.S. and on April 16, 2003, the Ninth Circuit again issued a Stay. North American hemp food companies voluntarily observe reasonable THC limits similar to those adopted by European nations as well as Canada and Australia.

These limits protect consumers with a wide margin of safety from any psychoactive effects or workplace drug-testing interference (see hemp industry standards regarding trace THC at The DEA has hypocritically not targeted food manufacturers for using poppy seeds (in bagels and muffins, for example) even though they contain far higher levels of trace opiates. The recently revived global hemp market is a thriving commercial success.

Unfortunately, because the DEA's Drug War paranoia has confused non-psychoactive industrial hemp varieties of cannabis with psychoactive "marihuana" varieties, the U.S. is the only major industrialized nation to prohibit the growing of industrial hemp. Please visit to read scientific studies of hemp foods and see court documents. For more information or to arrange interviews with representatives of the hemp industry, please call Adam Eidinger at 202-986-6186 or 202-744-2671 (cell).   CONTACT: Adam Eidinger of, 202-986-6186 or 202-744-2671 (cell)

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