After a year or so of warning, the DEA has finally issued its new rules on hemp products.
The good news about new regulations – the first significant US regulations on hemp since the infamous Marihuana Tax Act – is that they specifically exempt all hemp fibre products, including clothing, paper, stable chips and industrial textiles. They also exempt hemp for birdseed and animal feed, provided that the hempseed is sterilized and is mixed with something else. The new regulations also seem to exempt all hemp-based cosmetics.
However, the new rules also state that all forms of THC are Schedule I substances, even the tiny trace amounts found in almost all hemp food products. Some think this could cripple the growing hemp foods sector, but this is a hotly debated point.
The DEA is not prohibiting hemp foods because they are hemp foods, they are prohibiting hemp foods that put any level of THC into the human body. The DEA has exempted hemp soaps, cosmetics and shampoos, for while they recognize that these kind of products might contain THC, they claim that the ability of the skin to absorb THC is insignificant.
Why the paranoia about eating trace amounts of THC? Regulators are likely concerned that hemp food consumption can cause a false positive on a urine test. However, this worry was been countered by study made in 2000 by hemp researcher Gero Leson, which determined that hemp foods currently on the market do not cause false positives given a correctly applied urine testing procedure. Also, poppy seeds have been blamed for causing false positives on opiate-based pee tests, but there has never been a push to ban them.
Although many hemp foods are sold in the US as being “completely free of THC,” that often depends on the sensitivity of the measurement. Less than four parts per million is typically considered an “undetectable” level of THC in food products. But under the new rules, if hemp foods are found to contain any THC at all, there could be criminal sentences for the seller and manufacturer. Since the DEA has not included a test protocol for THC detection in their new rules, no-one knows what level of THC they will actually be able to detect.
Despite the mean-spiritedness of the regulations, the DEA has allowed hemp foods companies a grace period to dispose of their inventory. They have also indicated that they will be accepting “public comments” up until December 10, but this is likely just to see who comes forward rather than a sincere attempt to ease up with the regulations.
Although North America’s hemp farmers and processors are struggling to deal with the constant changes and resistance from government, there is nevertheless many reasons to foresee a strong and vibrant hemp industry on this continent in the future.
? For updates and further information: visit www.votehemp.com and www.hempfood.com
? Arthur Hanks is the editor and publisher of The Hemp Report: tel 306-790-9305; fax 810-314-2138; email [email protected]; web www.hempreport.com
? DEA Media Advisory: DEA Clarifies Status of Hemp in the Federal Register