Court Declares Hemp Legal To Consume

Court Declares Hemp Legal To Consume
Posted by CN Staff on February 24, 2004 at 09:20:02 PT
By Kali Bhandari, Staff Writer
Source: Daily Illini
A 2 1/2-year-old legal battle is over and the winner is hemp  the plant some confuse as having the same effects as marijuana. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Feb. 6 that hemp-based foods are safe for human consumption, going against the case laid out by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
The hemp plant has been controversial for years because it contains THC, a psychoactive chemical called delta-l-tetrahydrocannabinol that can induce a high. Representatives for The Hemp Industries Association of America (HIA), which represents over 200 hemp companies in North America, said the association was ecstatic with the decision. The HIA based its arguments upon the fact that the DEA's arguments ignored the specific exemption Congress made in the Controlled Substances Act. The act excludes hemp oil, seed and fiber from regulation."Based on the decision, the court reasonably views trace insignificant amounts of THC in hemp seed in the same way as it sees trace amounts of opiates in poppy seeds," said David Bronner, chair of the HIA Food and Oil Committee. The lawsuit cost the HIA about $200,000, which may be recoverable. Bronner said the suit came about for ridiculous reasons."It's a really convoluted argument, so it's a really bogus thing," Bronner said. "But the DEA has a lot of resources to put into this. It's absolutely absurd  there's no chance of flunking a drug test when you use hemp-based products."He explained that varieties of cannabis have never been psychoactive and that many other countries recognize the fact and grow hemp as an agricultural crop. He felt this was a sign that the United States had a "hysterical policy on cannabis in general.""I think it's part of a shift in culture  exposing government lies and propaganda," Bronner said. "They're taking a big credibility hit."Now that the lawsuit is over, the HIA plans to make up for lost time by concentrating on marketing and getting hemp products on more shelves."There's been a lot of industry time wasted," Bronner said.Agreeing with the HIA was Eric Steenstra, president of Vote Hemp, an Internet-based company advocating the growth of hemp by U.S. farmers."We were definitely ecstatic that we got a diverse unanimous ruling," Steenstra said. "We didn't think there was a controversy to begin with, but the DEA decided to regulate these products  which was clearly wrong because the Congress had exempted them. The DEA is supposed to enforce laws  not make new ones."Will Glaspy, spokesman for the DEA, said the DEA was still working with its attorneys as to what response it would have to the ruling.However, there are some who fear this ruling will form a slippery-slope argument for legalizing marijuana.While the the two causes are similar, it is wrong to equalize hemp and marijuana, said Danielle Schumacher, senior in LAS and president of the University chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws."People who try to equate hemp and marijuana are completely ignorant," Schumacher said. "(Hemp) is a part of the marijuana movement, but you need to clear up the confusion between the two if (hemp) is to help (the marijuana movement)."Steenstra added a similar argument."It's sort of like saying poppy seed bagels are a stalking horse for opium," Steenstra said.As a community particularly concerned with the difference between agricultural and drug crops, hemp is of special significance. Serena Hassel, a manager and buyer at Strawberry Fields Natural Food Store, 306 W. Springfield Ave., said the store does sell hemp-based products."We sell hemp-based cereals, granola, waffles, as well the oil in supplement form," Hassel said. Hassel said she felt the ruling was a good thing and compared the amounts of THC in hemp to finding a grain of sand in a garbage dump truck."There would definitely be a lot of people upset (if we stopped carrying the products)," she said.Hemp has yet to find acceptance within the University Housing. Kirsten Ruby, assistant director of housing for marketing, said the University Dining Services did not serve any hemp-based products currently and did not plan to do so in the future.Source: Daily Illini, The (IL Edu)Author: Kali Bhandari, Staff WriterPublished: Tuesday, February 24, 2004 Copyright: 2004 Illini Media Co.Contact: opinions dailyillini.comWebsite: Related Articles & Web Sites:Cannabis News Hemp Links Vs. DEA Hemp Ruling in PDF Win Opens Doors for Hemp Food Foods Get Court OK Court Limits Ban on Hemp Products
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