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  1. #1


    First it was medical marijuana. Now the Bush administration is taking
    aim at hemp-food products. What will be next?

    There's no doubt about it: Jimmy Trapella loves his hemp. Hanging
    outside Newbury Street's Hempest, Jimmy's about to chomp into a
    hempseed bar. Earlier this morning, he enjoyed hempseed sprinkled on
    his bowl of breakfast cereal and had some hempseed nuts on a salad
    for lunch.

    Jimmy owns a hemp wardrobe, too, including a belt, pants, bag, and
    shirt - most of which he's currently wearing. And the 25-year-old is
    contemplating writing a song about hemp for his band. But despite his
    blissed-out devotion to the leafy green, Jimmy is not as chill as one
    might surmise. That's because, depending on the outcome of an
    upcoming legal battle in the California courts, Jimmy's afternoon
    snack could soon land him in prison.

    "I'm bummed," he says.

    If you think hemp equals marijuana, you're not alone. But in fact,
    the two plants are actually different varieties of the same species.
    One is grown to maximize fiber content, the other to maximize
    psychochemical effect. One is legal in brownies, the other isn't. One
    was grown as a cash crop by our forebears, the other was not inhaled
    by a recent president.

    But it seems even the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has
    difficultly differentiating between the two. In October, the DEA
    published an interpretive rule in the Federal Register banning
    hemp-food products containing any amount of tetrahydrocannabinol
    (THC), the psychoactive compound found in marijuana. The rule - which
    included an exemption for personal-care products like soap and
    shampoo and industrial products like paper, rope, and clothing -
    reinterpreted the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, which classified
    all drugs into five groups. The DEA's rule also effectively rewrote a
    60-year-old definition from the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act, which stated
    that "neither the mature stalk of the hemp plant nor the fiber
    produced there from contains any drug, narcotic, or harmful property

    "Given the recent increase in marketing of these so-called 'hemp'
    products in the United States," reads the rule, written by DEA
    administrator Asa Hutchinson, "and given that many such products have
    recently been determined to contain THC, DEA has repeatedly been
    asked in recent months whether the THC content of such products
    renders them controlled substances despite the fact that they are
    reportedly made from portions of the cannabis plant that are excluded
    from the definition of marijuana."

    The agency's decision: yes. As a result, all hemp intended for
    consumption that contains any amount of THC has suddenly been
    classified as a Schedule I substance - which means that, according to
    the DEA's new regulation, Jimmy's afternoon snack is basically the
    same thing as smoking a joint, shooting smack, or dropping a tab.
    Hemp pretzels, nutrition bars, pancake mix, salad dressing, beer -
    all illegal. The new rule gave store owners a 120-day window to
    remove hemp-food products from their shelves.

    Many in the industry cried foul. Led by the Hemp Industries
    Association (HIA), a trade organization representing more than 250
    companies and small businesses, seven manufacturers banded together
    and filed a request for a formal review of the rule in the Ninth
    Circuit Court of Appeals. "[The DEA's rules] were arbitrary, they
    didn't follow due process, and they weren't based on due process,"
    argues John Roulac, founder of Nutiva, which manufactures hemp and
    flax bars, among other hemp products. "What we're doing is perfectly
    legal, healthy, sustainable." The review, which begins April 8 in San
    Francisco, could effectively reverse the DEA's rule. In addition,
    Canadian company Kenex has accused the US government of violating the
    North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) by impeding the import of
    hemp seeds. In March, the company filed notice of an intent to
    arbitrate under NAFTA's Chapter 11, requesting tens of millions of
    dollars in compensation for lost revenues.

    In the meantime, the group of hemp supporters filed an urgent motion
    to stay the DEA's rule, which would allow stores to continue to stock
    their hemp-food products. "This action seriously threatens our
    business," the motion reads, "to the point that we may need to shut
    down our operations and force us to go out of business." In early
    March, the Ninth Circuit granted the stay, meaning that until the
    court finishes its review of the rule and renders its final decision,
    it's still legal to sell - and consume - hemp-food products.

    Michael Cutler, a drug-policy-reform advocate and an attorney for the
    Voluntary Committee of Lawyers, sees the stay as substantial
    indication that the feds' case has little merit. "I don't think the
    government's even close to having a case," he says. "The fact that a
    circuit court would step on a government agency, particularly the
    DEA, is extraordinary. And to do it as an emergency-injunctive
    action, with only affidavits, and without evidence," is even more

    Human have made use of hemp plants for 10,000 years. In fact, its
    devotees are fond of throwing historical information at the
    government, such as the claim that both George Washington and Thomas
    Jefferson grew hemp. And they tirelessly point out that while
    marijuana and hemp are both classified as Cannabis sativa, the first
    is bred for maximum THC content, and the second is bred for maximum
    fiber content.

    Industrial hemp plants, a tall, stalk-like variety, are bred for
    exceptionally low THC content, and can be harvested either for their
    seeds (also known as nuts) or their oil. The seed's outer shell
    contains trace amounts of THC, which may brush against the nut, but
    the psychochemical component can be removed with dabs of alcohol or
    the whisk of a brush, says Richard Rose, founder of hempseed-food
    maker HempNut Inc. After it's been extracted, the seed can be turned
    into anything from crunchy nuts and pretzels to salad oil. And
    according to the HIA, the small nuts are gaining steam: estimated
    retail sales for hemp-food and body-care products in the US exceeded
    $25 million in 2000, up from less than $1 million in the early ' 90s.

    Sure enough, at the Hempest outlet in Northampton, about a dozen
    people come in every day to enjoy a cup of hempseed coffee. Ed Dodge,
    a member of the Massachusetts Green Party and a hemp aficionado, says
    he also eats hemp daily. He mentions the Galaxy Restaurant in New
    York. "They have a whole hemp-food menu. Twenty different hempseed
    dishes. They've got the best veggie burger I've eaten in my entire

    Enthusiasts also tout the hempseed's health benefits, derived from an
    optimal mix of essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6 (those found
    in fish and wheat germ, for example), as well as its high protein
    content. Alternative-health expert Andrew Weil, author of the Self
    Healing newsletter, is a fan of hemp-food products, writing that
    "hemp oil contains more essential fatty acids than flax and actually
    tastes good. It is nutty and free from the objectionable undertones
    of flax oil. I use it on salads, baked potatoes, and other foods."

    Cynthia Sass, a nutritionist referred by the American Dietetic
    Association and a professor at the University of South Florida, adds
    that "hempseed also is a good source of vitamin E. It's real high in
    protein. Hemp is equivalent to soy beans in its protein content,
    which is really good." Still, she cautions that while the seed and
    oil have a good "nutritional profile," there aren't any studies that
    indicate whether or not the vitamin E, protein, and essential fatty
    acids actually offer health benefits when ingested via the plant.
    "There hasn't been any research done in which doctors gave people
    hemp and then followed them to see whether their blood pressure or
    something else improved. So there's no connection between consumption
    and health benefits. Even though it has some positive nutrients in
    it, we need to look for some more research and continue to consume
    other nutrients. There's no one super food that everyone needs to be

    Strong as the hemp-food market may be, it's not the high-powered arm
    of the hemp industry. Apparently, one can fashion more than 25,000
    products out of the stuff, including hammocks, magazines, hacky
    sacks, frisbees, embroidery thread, candles, coffee filters, teddy
    bears, and, of course, lots and lots of elastic-waisted,
    loose-fitting hemp clothes.

    As the law currently stands, all that remains legal even if the DEA's
    rule isn't overturned. But industry insiders are nervous that they
    may be headed down a slippery slope. First food, then lip balm, then
    body lotion, they fear - and then the whole shebang. So companies
    other than those that manufacture hemp food have gotten involved.
    "The DEA is just picking on the food industry now," says Roulac.
    "[But] the body-care industry is next."

    Some surmise the DEA has bolstered its case against hemp because
    ingested hemp oil can cause a false-positive result on drug tests. In
    1997, the Journal of Analytical Toxicology published a study showing
    that a person who ingested 135 milliliters of hempseed oil twice a
    day for four days tested positive for marijuana in the blood. In
    January 2000, the Air Force banned the oil after a soldier tested
    positive for drug use - and traced it back to a hempseed dietary
    supplement. It may be that government officials fear drug users could
    blame a positive drug-test result on hempseed oil or other hemp
    product, rather than on an illegal substance.

    But in October 2000, the Division of Forensic Toxicology at the Armed
    Forces Institute of Pathology found that "the concentration of THC in
    hemp-oil products has been reduced considerably since the publication
    of earlier studies." After volunteers ingested the products, the
    report's authors claimed, "all volunteers were below positive screen
    and confirmation cutoffs within 48 hours after cessation of

    Subsequent studies have also thrown the false-positive fears out the
    window. Most recently, an environmental-consulting firm in Berkeley,
    California, found that THC concentrations from foods containing seeds
    or oil are "sufficiently low to prevent confirmed positives."

    Testing aside, the question for the DEA may be why now? With a war
    going on, doesn't the government have better things to worry about?

    "The US government has had a war against the hemp industry for a long
    time; this is just another round," explains Nutiva's Roulac. "They
    realized that everyone was distracted with domestic security, they
    could do things like this without much public notice," asserts Don
    Wirthshafter, founder of the Ohio Hempery, a hemp-product
    manufacturer. "The same week, they came down on medical-marijuana
    clubs in California and physician-assisted suicide in Oregon. They
    thought they could get away with it then."

    More important, those in the hemp industry believe, the fact that the
    government sat on the issue for a year indicates that the products
    don't pose the critical health threat the DEA posits. "Obviously,
    having waited almost a year to issues these rules," court papers
    read, "DEA does not believe the products in question pose any threat
    to public health or safety, let alone an imminent threat warranting
    immediate placement of these products on Schedule I of the
    [Controlled Substances Act]."

    So if it's not a health issue, what's the problem? Some allege that
    the DEA has been pressured into action by the religious right. The
    conservative Family Research Council (FRC) issued an extensive appeal
    to snuff out the hemp industry in December 2000. In an article titled
    "Hemp Is Marijuana: Should Farmers Grow It?", Robert Maginnis,
    vice-president for national security and foreign affairs at the FRC,
    wrote, "legalizing hemp sends the wrong message about its look-alike,
    marijuana.... Selling hemp products is clearly about marijuana

    David Bronner disagrees. And as chair of the HIA's food-and-oil
    committee and president of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, a personal-care
    company whose products contain hemp and whose packaging (also made of
    hemp) features religious messages, Bronner sits at an intriguing
    intersection of hemp advocacy and Christian morals. "Industrial hemp
    has a phenomenal nutritional profile," he says. "The DEA is trying to
    undercut the most promising growth market in the near future."

    But none of the dea documents addresses the crux of the case: can you
    get high from eating hemp-food products? The level of THC in hempseed
    is reportedly so low that, as one hemp advocate huffs, "the products
    don't have a high enough concentration of THC to intoxicate an ant,
    let alone a human being."

    Says attorney Michael Cutler, "You can eat hemp pretzels till you
    explode, and you won't get high. It ain't there. You can't stack it
    up and get it in there. What you have in there is not metabolizable
    into something that's psychoactive. There's really no scientific
    dispute about that."

    Nutritionist Sass concurs: "I haven't seen any research to show that
    the psychoactive effects of using marijuana plants as a drug would
    have the same effects as eating [hemp foods]. I've never had anyone
    tell me they would eat it for that reason. Everyone I've ever talked
    to who is or who has considered eating hemp is doing it because they
    think it's healthy." Sass pauses, laughing. "And I work at a

    Canada's Hempola even tried an experiment to see whether eating
    enough hemp-food products could possibly turn a test positive. In the
    test, the country's top-ranking masters triathlete ingested hempseed
    oil at six times the typical consumption rate for a series of days.
    "He went in for a drug test," explains Hempola's founder and
    president Greg Herriott, "and he came out negative."

    It's been illegal to grow hemp in the US since the 1950s, so most
    hempseed found in this country is imported from Canada and follows
    that country's strict Health Canada Protocol guidelines: a plant must
    contain no more than three-tenths of one percent THC, or five parts
    per million (ppm) for hemp oil and 1.5 ppm for shelled hempseeds.

    Here in the US, the DEA claims that hemp foods containing zero
    percent THC are perfectly legal under the new rule. But insiders
    argue that's impossible, because hemp products with zero percent THC
    don't exist. According to them, you can always find trace amounts if
    you look hard enough. But companies currently selling hemp-food
    products have tested below the current THC-detection standards, which
    are set by the Canadian government.

    In fact, Richard Rose has pitted his HempNut Inc., based in Santa
    Rosa, California, against its competitors and cozied up to the DEA by
    claiming its products actually do contain zero percent THC. "Cleaning
    THC off of hemp seed is easy, doable," he says. "Just clean off the
    THC." But even Rose worries that appealing the DEA's ruling could
    pave the way for renegotiating testing standards, which could allow
    the DEA to lower the bar to, say, five parts per billion. "This ban
    was a get-out-of-jail-free card for 90 percent of the industry," he

    Others in the hemp industry associated with HIA aren't pleased with
    Rose's public swagger. In retaliation, they tested his products for
    THC, lowering the bar just a wee bit. "HempNut has trace THC in
    there, and we found it using marginally stronger detection
    protocols," says the HIA's Bronner. And that illustrates the
    industry's ultimate point: "It's absolutely impossible to get all the
    THC off the seed," Bronner says. "You can spend an arbitrary amount
    of money to clean [the seeds], but it's only going to go out so many
    zeros. You're always going to have some. You'll always be able to see
    it if you look far enough down."

    Zero percent THC, almost zero percent - what's the biggie? It's a big
    deal when you consider that in between zero and teensy amounts of the
    stuff is where the DEA has found a window to prosecute. It doesn't
    matter that you can't get high from trace amounts of THC; the fact
    that the chemical is in there at all has allowed the agency to
    classify the food product as a toxic substance.

    Bronner's concerned that Rose's naysaying may invalidate the
    industry's primary legal recourse. "We have to stand and fight now.
    Everyone in the industry realizes that except for this one company."

    Whatever the court's decision - which is expected to come down within
    six to nine months - the hemp-food industry has already taken a hit.
    Somewhere in the midst of all the legalese, the slew of articles in
    papers across the country, and the HIA's urgent appeals for action,
    consumers are confused, the industry is splintering, and small
    businesses are hurting.

    Natural-food chain Whole Foods (known locally as Bread & Circus)
    removed all hemp-food products from its shelves in February, for
    example, when its suppliers were unable to produce documentation that
    their products were completely THC-free. In mid March, after the stay
    was granted, the chain restocked the items.

    As a result of actions like these, hemp companies are reporting
    plummeting sales. "My sales are down 75 to 80 percent across the
    country," says HempNut 's Rose. "I've been managing phone calls from
    Topeka, Kansas, saying, 'Where do I send these hemp foods? They're
    illegal. I don't want the DEA to come in and raid me!' They're
    actually afraid. They're whipped into a tizzy." Adds Hempola's
    Herriott, "Consumers are fearful of purchasing hemp-food products,
    especially if they're obligated to have drug testing at work."

    But some other companies are reporting an uptick from the unexpected
    publicity. "We've picked up some new customers," says Nutiva's
    Roulac. "Some of our current retailers are seeing a rush from
    consumers to pick it up."

    Rose, however, claims any and all damage is irreparable. "Once you
    destroy the industry, it doesn't matter what the DEA does. People
    misreading the rule have created the very thing the DEA was trying to

    Adds Ohio Hempery's Wirthshafter, "It's discouraging to me because
    the government, just by threatening this a year ago, cut out our
    market. These companies got scared away from hemp. This may come back
    in a year or so, when we finish these court battles, but it was a
    real setback for my business and my industry."

    But hemp appreciators aren't giving up any time soon: they'll fight
    to the end for their super herb. "Hemp's one of those things, once
    you get involved in it, it's like jumping into a black hole," says
    Nutiva's Roulac. "The government is very intimidated by hemp. It is
    their mission to destroy the entire hemp industry. But the genie has
    already jumped out of the bottle. The more they try to stop it, the
    more ridiculous they look."


    Taster's Choice?

    LEGAL ACTION. Industry infighting. Health claims. Drug tests. Okay,
    but what does hemp taste like? I sample a few hemp-food products to
    see what all the fuss is about. At the Hempest, I pick up an Alpsnack
    nutrition bar made of hempnuts, nuts, and fruit. It tastes just like
    any other all-natural, tree-huggin' treat: a little bland. I also try
    a lime-green hemp lollipop. It's pungent and smells like, as a friend
    puts it, a " shwag-pop. " After a few licks, I can't take anymore.
    Hempola sends over some foods to taste - from salad dressings to
    high-protein pancake mix made with organic spelt and hempseed flour.
    For dinner, I pour some honey-Dijon-hempseed dressing on a bed of
    lettuce. It tastes like ... salad dressing.

    - - NW

    Betcha didn't know that ...

    . In the 1930s, Henry Ford made a car from hemp and other crops "
    grown from the soil. " These days, BMW is reportedly working on its
    own set of wheels that replaces fiberglass matte with hemp.

    . Christopher Columbus's ships were rigged with industrial hemp ropes
    and sales.

    . The original Levi's jeans, made for Sierra Nevada gold rushers,
    were made of rugged hemp sailcloth. A current vintage line includes
    40 percent hemp.

    . The Declaration of Independence was drafted on hemp paper.

    . Betsy Ross reportedly sewed the first US flag with hemp thread.

    . Rembrandt and van Gogh painted on hemp canvas.

    Information gathered from the North American Industrial Hemp Counsel,
    MASS CANN, the Hemp Industries Association, and Rowan Robinson's The
    Hemp Manifesto (Park Street Press, 1997).

    - - Nina Willdorf

    Pubdate: Thu, 04 Apr 2002
    Source: Boston Phoenix (MA)
    Copyright: 2002 The Phoenix Media/Communications Group.

  2. #2
    420 Member
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    thats a long ass post... you accpect me to read that?

  3. #3
    420 Member
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    oh thats from 2002 lol i was just searching for post topics and this popped up..

  4. #4
    Administrator 420's Avatar
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    i smell a post whore...
    and it doesn't smell good...

  5. #5
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    does anyone know what actually happened with this case and the like?

  6. #6
    420 Member Pinch's Avatar
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    Blog Entries


    You know it's funny, but I just read the other day that says the US would ned maybe 6 hemp farms to take care of all the industry's needs inthis country. Too many people see legalizing it as a backdoor to pot production. I'd say give it time, why push such an small cause ?

    Come on.. answer me that! Pinch (IMC)
    Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. - Buddha

  7. #7
    420 Member Hash's Avatar
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    Hemp is now legal to sell in the U.S. just not grow.
    420 Magazine
    Creating Cannabis Awareness Since 1993