DrugSense FOCUS Alert #227 Feb 12, 2002
The DEA and Hemp Hysteria
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DrugSense FOCUS Alert #227 Feb 12, 2002
Well the day finally arrived last week. The DEA's self-imposed 'interpretative ruling' of the 1970 federal Controlled Substances Act puts millions of Americans at risk of arrest should they be found in possesion of a wide range of food and beverage products that may contain hemp or hemp based ingredients.
First issued on Oct 9, the DEA initially provided a 'grace' period of 90 days before they would begin active enforcement of their ruling. Americans found in violation would be subject to the same penalties currently leveled against those who violate federal laws against marijuana possesion and/or distribution.
Thanks to the efforts of America's hemp industry and their lawsuits against the DEA, this enforcement period has been further extended until Mar 18. DEA Director Asa Hutchinson exclaims that his agency is 'simply enforcing the laws created by Congress', and at the same time ignores all rational discussions that show the foolishness of criminalizing these products.
The Feb 10 issue of TIME magazine carried a very good summation of the current state of affairs as well as some up close information about the hemp industry in Kentucky.
PLEASE CONSIDER writing a letter to TIME magazine TODAY and thank them for their coverage of this topic. You might also include indications of your support for the DEA's cessation of ending their plans to criminalize hemp based foods and beverages.
You might also review any recent issue of TIME, and examine their Letters page. Most printed letters in TIME are short and focus on a single concise point. However these relatively small letters carry enormous equivalent advertising value due to their huge circulation and readership.
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The CONTACT info for TIME is:
Time Magazine Letters, Time & Life Bldg., Rockefeller Center, NY, NY 10020
Pubdate: Mon, 18 Feb 2002
Source: Time Magazine (US)
Issue: Vol. 159, No. 7
Copyright: 2002 Time Inc
Author: John Cloud
Bookmark: (http://www.mapinc.org/hemp.htm)http://www.mapinc.org/hemp.htm (Hemp)
THIS BUD'S NOT FOR YOU
Not if you want to get high, anyway.
But if hemp isn't a drug, why is the DEA treating it like heroin?
No one is saying Kentucky doesn't offer its share of distinctive intoxicants. Bourbon and tobacco have long been popular drugs here, and even in these abstemious times, a well-known member of the political class will occasionally pour his visitors a glass of moonshine from a Mason jar with plumped cherries bobbing on the bottom.
But the farmers around Lexington are mostly old-fashioned men with a serious problem: the decline in demand for U.S. tobacco.
And when they tell you they know of a crop that could help replace tobacco and maybe save their farms, they aren't promoting any stoner foolishness. True, the crop they hope to grow is known to botanists as Cannabis sativa, but different races within that species can have widely varying amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the merrymaking chemical in pot. Marijuana will typically have anywhere from 3% to 20% THC. Hemp is bred to contain less than 1%. You could roll and smoke every leaf on a 15-ft. hemp plant and gain little more than a hacking cough.
Next month, however, the Drug Enforcement Administration is set to begin enforcing a new rule treating foods that contain "any amount of" THC (even nonpsychoactive amounts) as controlled substances, making them as restricted as heroin.
Anyone possessing such foods is supposed to dispose of them now, though hemp sellers and eaters won't be prosecuted until March 18. Nationally marketed products include the Hempzel Pretzels, baked in Pennsylvania, and Organic Hemp Plus Granola, made in Blaine, Wash. Gastronomically speaking, a ban on these earthy-tasting comestibles would be no great tragedy--though the hemp-crazy Galaxy Global Eatery in New York City serves an apple pie with a delightful hemp crust.
Economically speaking, though, a ban could ruin the 20 or so companies that make and sell more than $5 million worth of hemp waffles, salad oils and other foods a year. Hemp Universe here in Lexington stopped selling food weeks ago, and Whole Foods Market of Austin, Texas, recommended last week that its 129 stores remove hemp products.
Other retailers are holding firm, saying hemp foods contain such tiny traces of THC that the chemical wouldn't register in a routine lab test. But that's not the same as having zero THC, and the threat of further DEA action has prompted seven hemp companies to ask the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to block the rule. They say the DEA is effectively creating a new law, not interpreting existing statutes. A Canadian hemp firm has filed a claim saying the DEA is violating NAFTA by failing to provide scientific justification for a rule that "will be nothing short of an absolute ban on trade in hemp food." (The Canadian government has also formally objected.) The DEA's position is that U.S. drug laws clearly ban THC--any THC. The court's decision will turn on the historically murky question of whether Congress intended hemp to be part of those laws. Some antidrug groups-- including, most stridently, the Family Research Council--believe allowing hemp foods would send a pro-marijuana message.
Many farmers are watching the case because it shows how hard the government will fight a growing movement to legitimize hemp farming in the U.S. Right now it's legal to sell hemp products but illegal to grow the hemp used in them, which is imported.
The global market for raw hemp is expanding.
Foods are only a fraction of the hemp-product universe, which includes Mercedes door panels, Body Shop Body Butter, Armani place mats, and countless humbler items such as twine, carpet and diapers.
These nonedibles would remain legal under the rule. But if the court doesn't intervene, investors may think twice before supporting a business associated with drugs.
If hemp cultivation were legalized, could it really save U.S. farms?
That's unclear, but legislators in more than 20 states have asked for research. They know that a year after Canada allowed hemp cultivation in 1998, its farms were already growing 35,000 acres.
The U.S. has taken a different, more tangled approach to the plant, one that reflects the quick assumptions of the war on drugs.
(Note: for space reasons, the rest of this article has been cut, but you can read the remainder here: URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v02/n230/a03.html)
To the editors of TIME:
re: This Bud's Not For You (Feb 10)
The Drug Enforcement Administration clearly wants to hide from their nefarious 'interpretative ruling' about hemp based food and beverages. DEA head Asa Hutchinson peeks from behind the skirt of the U.S. Congress and proclaims that he cannot ignore the law. Should his agency's ruling prevail against the current legal actions of the hemp industry, several million otherwise law abiding Americans will be re-defined as criminals.
Since none of the hemp based food products made in America contain sufficient THC to create even a twinge of a 'high', the DEA's ruling has nothing to do with public health or safety. Instead it comes down to nothing more than a desire to further expand Washington's War on Americans, formerly known as the War on Drugs.
Stephen Heath (contact info)
TARGET ANALYSIS Time Magazine Circulation 4,250,000
Time has several published letters in the MAP archive. They tend to be extremely short, between 23 and 83 words, with an average of 65 words. On the other hand, if you can generate a short powerful reply to this article you could potentially influence a huge audience. A one inch LTE published in TIME Magazine has an equivalent advertising value of more that $25,000!!
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Prepared by Stephen Heath http://www.drugsense.org/dpffl - DrugSense FOCUS Alert Specialist
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