Body Shop follies

Illustration: Roddy HeadingIllustration: Roddy HeadingFrench hemp fracas
Britain’s premiere epidermal ammo dump for high-end eco-kosher skin goo tussled with French police last summer, something about Body Shop displaying the cannabis leaf on a poster to promote their line of pricey hemp oil soapie thingies. It was the peoples’ choice vs the Napoleonic Code as Body Shop founder Anita Roddick had a few bad hair days making the world safe for hempen bathtub arts.

Hemp products represent about 12% of all Body Shop sales in the French market. Body Shop was using French grown seed in the manufacture of its products. They were way below standard THC levels, so what gives?

Body Shop marketing commandos played up the soap opera conflict, lathering up public sentiment to their favour. The international press ate it up during an otherwise boring summer of drought and war. In a few days the hemp doo dahs were back on the shelves of Body Shop France thanks to good old pressure and counter attack. Viva Anita ? the Jane Goodall of hemp.

Health Canada vs healthy cosmetics

In October, hemp slipped further into the North American mainstream when Body Shop introduced hemp soapies into their 121 franchise outlets in malls and ?ber shopping districts across Canada. Here we go again, the big bad wolf at the door of the launch party in Toronto. Ms Roddick tells her guests how hemp has 25,000 uses, make that 24,999? there’s a call from Ottawa on line one.

“We were told by Health Canada that if we moved the product from the warehouse to the stores, Health Canada may seize them, said Margot Franssen, President of Body Shop Canada. “They suggested that we do not carry on with the product launch.

Health Canada policy plumbers met over the weekend to resolve the situation. Body Shop UK flew their chief chemist over from Europe to Ottawa to iron out any drug-strategy harm-reduction lets-get-back-to-work discussions that may arise.

“It’s all cleared up says Steve Jeffrey, a spokesman for Health Canada who handles the hempsters who hound the Health Minister’s offices. “There is nothing preventing the Body Shop from going to market.

Right now, the Health Minister’s Laboratory is conducting tests to determine the risks of long term, repeated ingestion of the micro-grams of THC found in lip balms and face wash. We all wonder if there is any pressure from the DEA to stall hemp food and cosmetics for some reason. Perhaps the DEA is worried that hemp shampoo will do to follicle testing what eating hemp snacks has done for urine testing: give people a valid excuse for false positives.

Saskatchewan’s super-style seed oil

Ruth Shamai, director of Toronto’s Natural Order, is working with a crop agronomist in Saskatchewan. This past summer they contracted 450 hectares of oleo hemp to 40 provincial farmers. Their team is breeding an improved strain of oleo hemp that develops much richer concentrations of beneficial Gamma-Linoleic Acid (GLA) than most other edible hemp seed cultigens off the rack. This new variety, “Canefa shows GLA levels of about 10%, more than three times richer than the brand X hemp seeds your canary knows and loves.

Shamai has a contract to supply premium grade, certified organic Saskatchewan-grown super-style hempseed oil to the Body Shop in the near future. She points out that her oil was not at fault in the recent Body Shop fracas ? the Saskatchewan hemp seed crop was under 45cm of snow, waiting to be harvested. We’ll let you go this time Ruth.

A Body Shop Christmas

The Body Shop brings you a buck’s worth of oil in a ten dollar can. Their soaps and gels and balms and stuff are OK, nothing scary, nothing special. True hempsters have seen it all before, cheaper and at least as good. The Body Shop flier that comes with their neat in-store hemp-retail shrine cries out “Hemp Revival for Skin Survival. It reminds me of Sunday School. They portray Canuck Hemp-Grandfather Joe Strobel in context with the phrase that is so dear to our hempen hearts, and I quote:

“Great Moisturiser doesn’t grow on Trees.

These nice people not only sell us hygiene, but social anthropology. Body Shop hemp literature instructs us about drug prohibition and salutes the modern Canadian government for bringing industrial hemp into legality.

These are nice people. They smell nice, they’re rich and they speak good English. Their packaging is recycled paper. They even put Hemp / Chanvre on equal footing, that’s terminal kindness. They express contents in metric, they hire disadvantaged fashion models to work in a friendly atmosphere of sacred shopping.”

So who’s getting hemp for Christmas? That’s the real question.Illustration: Roddy Heading