Hemp, Hemp Hooray

Federal court rejects DEA ban on hemp foods

Makers of food products containing hemp won a victory last week in federal appeals court. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco overturned a federal rule by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) that would have banned the sale of foods containing sterilized hemp seeds and oils containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), well-known as the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

Trace amounts of hemp-based THC at non-psychoactive levels are found in several types of foods, including snack chips, nutrition bars, salad oil, breads and cereals. The DEA rule would have banned the sale of foods containing THC even when the substance is naturally occurring and is non-psychoactive.

But the appeals court said that Congress “unambiguously” excluded hemp oil, seeds and stalks from the definition of marijuana in a law that criminalizes marijuana. The court said the DEA does not have the authority to adopt a regulation banning all hemp foods without going through formal rule-making procedures.

According to David Bronner, a representative of the Hemp Industries Association that filed and won the appeal, “We’re extremely excited about this ruling. Now we can concentrate our energy on bringing hemp nutrition to the American public.”