Pubdate: Thu, 22 Apr 1999 
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Page: T04
Copyright: 1999 The Washington Post Company
Address: 1150 15th Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20071
Author: Jura Koncius


Hemp May Be Just The Thing To Alter Your Mood. But You'll Have To Inhale.

Last spring, the Body Shop introduced a line of earthy moisturizing creams
and soaps ("No Buzz, Great Sudz")
made with industrial hemp, a cousin of marijuana. The company's current
catalogue features woven hemp back
scrubbers--a flashback to those macrame plant hangers from the 1970s. And on
the way to the 300 U.S. Body Shop
stores by June: hemp candles and burning oil.

The products push the marijuana connection with a musky fragrance and
suggestive pitch and packaging. Military-surplus-style tins and tubes are
labeled with the five-pronged leaf once so familiar on T-shirts
and music posters. "They can't arrest your skin," says one slogan. "The best
moisturizer in the world and we promise you won't get the munchies," says
another. At the Body Shop in Georgetown, the $9.95 tube of Hemp hand cream
for hard-core cases of dry skin is one of the best sellers: "Softens your
hands without short-term memory loss," winks the in-store propaganda.

Hemp, the fibrous plant also known as Cannabis sativa, has been going
mainstream for some time now. Manufacturers have turned industrial hemp--not
to be confused with the recreational strain--into building
materials, paper, sneakers, pillows, rope, foods and fabric. Its
protein-rich oil contains a fatty acid that penetrates dry skin. The Body
Shop, trendy retailer of skin, body care and fragrance products in 47
countries, has been a leader in advocating wider use of the environmentally
friendly plant.

The target market for the Body Shop's line might be baby boomers who
remember the familiar fragrance from their love-in days and their offspring
who see the products as witty and retro. But the products have stirred
controversy, says Deborah Hammond from the company's corporate headquarters
in London. "But of course we expected that because of the link with
marijuana. We got a very positive response as well."

Some people have trouble believing the Hemp line is strictly legal. "I think
about a third of the customers actually think it's dope," says Sean Donohue,
manager of the Georgetown store. Some have even asked if
using the stuff would mean they'd flunk an on-the-job drug test. Just say no.

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