The United States Department of Justice plans to announce three new
rules that will ban products made from hemp seed and oil.

The rules could seriously affect the young Canadian hemp industry,
which sees the U.S. as an important market.

"Do we have to go there again?" sighed Shaun Crew, president of Hemp
Oil Canada, a hemp processor in Ste. Agathe, Man., who exports most of
his production south of the border.

Crew has dealt with anxiety about the U.S. market for more than a year
as he fought his way through a series of border skirmishes.

Lately, he's been shipping hemp across the border daily without
problems.

But some Canadian shipments of hemp were detained at the U.S. border
last year as U.S. customs officials and the Drug Enforcement Agency
tried to determine hemp's narcotic status.

The flowers of female hemp plants produce resins that contain small
amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol, a psychoactive substance that appears
in larger amounts in marijuana.

The resins stick to the hulls of hemp seed, but most can be removed
through cleaning and dehulling the seed.

Still, minute amounts of THC can remain in the seed and its products,
although not enough to get high on.

The U.S. government is concerned these trace amounts can interfere
with workplace drug testing programs.

Crew received a flurry of e-mails last week from U.S. hemp activists
and processors who are trying to galvanize opposition to the ban to
save their businesses.

In the meantime, U.S. customers considering stocking hemp products or
including hemp oil as an ingredient may be scared away.

It's hard to market hemp when its legal status is uncertain, Crew
said.

"That's the biggest damage this thing does. It's this roller coaster
ride they put you on."

The U.S. justice department set out its legislative schedule on Nov.
30.

Included in the schedule is a plan to publish three rules about the
status of products made from industrial hemp.

The first rule will clarify that any product containing any amount of
THC is a "controlled substance."

The second rule proposes to make the wording of drug regulations
clearer: Even if a product is made from hemp, it is a controlled
substance if it contains any THC.

The third rule will exempt hemp paper, rope and clothing, but
disallows hemp products that result in THC entering the human body.

"In this manner, it will remain clear that the only lawful way THC may
enter the human body is when a person is using a federally approved
drug or when the person is the subject of federally approved
research," said the department's notice, which appeared in the Nov. 30
Federal Register.

Agriculture Canada's trade directorate is watching developments
closely, said Ron Krystynak, deputy director for Canada-U.S. trade
issues.

Krystynak said the department knew new rules were in the
works.

But he said it's hard to assess the rules and their impact until they
are published in the Federal Register.

The announcement seems to throw into question Canadian exports of hemp
seed and oil, said Krystynak, although he thinks hemp cosmetics won't
be affected.

The announcement declared only the justice department's intent, he
said.

"The devil will be in the details."

Once the proposed rules are published, there will be a comment period
where affected parties, including the Canadian government, can state
their case.

The final rules that the government implements will then be published,
he said.

Hemp industry players should watch for the proposed rules to be
published, he said. The Canadian government will consult with them
once that happens, he added.

"I anticipate a lively comment period."


Newshawk: The Media Awareness Project of DrugSense
Pubdate: Thu, 04 Jan 2001
Source: Western Producer (CN SN)
Copyright: 2001 The Western Producer
Contact: newsroom@producer.com
Address: Box 2500, Saskatoon, SK, Canada S7K 2C4
Fax: (306) 934-2401
Website: http://www.producer.com/
Author: Roberta Rampton, Winnipeg bureau
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/hemp.htm (Hemp)
Related: Action Alert at http://www.levellers.org/dea/actionalert.123000.html