420 Magazine Background

Hemp Foods Do Not Interfere with Drug Testing

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
The Hemp Industries Association (HIA) is pleased that the authors of a new report in the July/August 2008 issue of the Journal of Analytical Toxicology (JAT), titled "9-Tetrahydrocannabinol Content of Commercially Available Hemp Products" (2008, Vol. 32, pages 428-432), found that "the amount of THC present in commercially available [hemp] products is significantly less in products available today" and that eating hemp foods "should not be considered as a realistic cause for a positive urine analysis result." The HIA does believe, however, that using August 1, 2001 would have been a better cut-off date for the test results than using April 21, 2003 when assessing progress made by the industry.

The earlier date would have been better, as it represents the official start of the HIA's TestPledge program. TestPledge is a hemp food industry self-regulation program that implemented trace THC standards which are lower (and thus more stringent) than the Health Canada protocol for THC. The earlier date is also prior to the DEA's publication of the "Exemption from Control of Certain Industrial Products and Materials Derived from the Cannabis Plant" (Federal Register, Vol. 66, No. 195) on Tuesday, October 9, 2001.

The TestPledge program alleviates concerns by consumers that eating hemp nut or hemp oil products may cause confirmed positive drug tests. TestPledge also dispels concerns regarding hemp oil body care products topically applied to the skin. TestPledge companies commit to implementing quality control measures which limit the amount of trace residual THC in hemp nut and oil, thus eliminating the risk of confirmed positive drug tests and any interference with workplace drug testing.

The TestPledge program is based on a study of trace THC in hemp food products that was conducted by Leson Environmental Consulting of Berkeley, California. A study summary was published in July 2000. The final study, titled "Evaluating the Impact of Hemp Food Consumption on Workplace Drug Tests," was published in 2001 in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology (2001, Vol. 25, pages 691-698).

Hemp foods are made from low-THC oilseed varieties of industrial hemp, most of which are grown in Canada and are on the Health Canada List of Approved Cultivars. Cannabis-flavored candies are made with Cannabis flower essential oil (CFEO), also known as hemp essential oil, which is obtained from steam distillation of the flowers and upper leaves of the Cannabis plant. CFEO should not be confused with hemp oil, also known as hemp seed oil, which is a vegetable oil that is derived from the seeds of low-THC varieties of industrial hemp.

Members of the HIA pledge to conduct their business in the hemp industry within the HIA guidelines for ethical business practices, including accuracy in labeling. These business practices preclude the use of drug slang and other marketing gimmicks that may give the "impression of illegality for a rebellious younger generation." To that end, the HIA issued a Legal Advisory re: Hemp Essential Fragrance on February 24, 2004 and also formally advised its members on February 1, 2007 not to stock products made with CFEO. Such sales and marketing may result in public confusion concerning bona fide hemp seed and oil used in safe, healthy foods that are intentionally marketed so as to avoid having anything to do with drugs.

The Hemp Industries Association (HIA) represents the interests of the hemp industry and encourages the research and development of new hemp products. DVD Video News Release featuring footage of hemp farming in other countries is available upon request by contacting Adam Eidinger at 202-744-2671.

Tom Murphy

News Hawk: User: 420 MAGAZINE ® - Medical Marijuana Publication & Social Networking
Source: The Earth Times
Copyright: 2008 The Earth Times
Contact: The Earth Times Online Newspaper - Contact us, Feedback, Submit press release
Website: Hemp Foods Do Not Interfere with Drug Testing

Addressing the Trace THC Issue

Unfortunately, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) have attacked hemp food and cosmetics, mainly on the thin pretext that such products interfere with their campaign to eliminate the use of hemp's psychoactive cousin, marijuana. This is akin to attacking fruit juices and breads for promoting alcohol use on account of their trace alcohol content, which results from natural fermentation.

The issue: even industrial hemp varieties, bred for low THC content, produce small non-psychoactive quantities of THC - short for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. If seeds are not properly cleaned after harvesting, excess trace residual THC sticks to their hulls and infuses oil and other products. Until 1998, when thoroughly cleaned seeds from Canada and the European Union became widely available, hemp oil containing more than 50 parts per million (ppm) of THC was often found in the market. While too low in THC to cause psychoactivity, studies have shown that such oil may produce a positive drug test for marijuana. Of course, that has also caused a few cases of alleged false-positives in workplace drug testing.

To determine whether current hemp foods can still cause positive drug tests, a Canadian governmental research program (ARDI) and members of the hemp industry commissioned a toxicological study. 15 individuals consumed hemp oil with a known THC concentration. Four different daily doses were given, each for a ten-day period, to allow the THC concentration to reach steady-state concentration in the body. At the end of each period, two urine samples were collected and analyzed. The study found that none of the 15 individuals who consumed up to 600 µg (micrograms, or one-millionth of a gram) of THC per day were even close to producing a urine sample that was "confirmed positive".

With current seed-cleaning technology and the correspondingly low trace THC levels in hemp oil and hemp nut, producing a confirmed positive test result would require that unrealistically high amounts of hemp oil or hemp nut be eaten. The practice of "confirming" all urine samples, which test positive in an initial screening test is followed by all federal and most private employers. Because some employers and law enforcement agencies rely on screening tests only, screening positive results caused by copious hemp food ingestion are conceivable, yet not likely. To view a summary of the study, click here. (PDF file 21k)

As for body care products, there is no issue whatsoever. A second study evaluated the concern that extended topical application of hemp cosmetic products would interfere with workplace drug-testing programs in the United States. The study shows that no significant transdermal uptake of THC would occur even in a worst-case scenario of highly compromised skin, full-body application of hemp oil and 10 ppm THC in the hemp oil (the maximum limit allowed by Canadian law). To view the assessment, click here. (PDF file 277k)

These and similar findings have not kept the federal government from using past drug-test interference problems as its pretext to harass the hemp industry. This irrational policy is especially puzzling as the DEA has quite sensibly not attacked poppy seed bagels and pastries for promoting opium use, despite the fact that poppy seeds come from the same species as the opium poppy and contain trace opiates which interfere with current narcotics drug-testing.

News Hawk: User: 420 MAGAZINE ® - Medical Marijuana Publication & Social Networking
Source: Hemp Industries Association
Copyright: 2008 Hemp Industries Association
Contact: info@thehia.org
Website: Hemp TestPledge for Food
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