Canadian hemp giant Kenex and its allies in the Canadian government rejoiced in December when the US government appeared to have backed off its hard-line policy on seizing Canadian hemp exports into the United States.
In August 1999, nearly 40,000 pounds of Kenex’s sterilized hemp seed were seized by US Customs at the Detroit border crossing (see CC#23). Customs officials later claimed they were acting under new DEA guidelines which banned any hemp product that contained “too much” THC.
After tons of negative publicity and intense pressure from Canadian trade officials and hemp industry giants like Mari Kane, Don Wirtshafter and John Roulac, the DEA in early December rescinded and revised its policy. Its new guidelines allowed hemp products of less than 0.3% THC to enter the US. Allowable hempseeds still had to be provably sterilized and unable to grow.
The DEA also stopped trying to seize hemp nutrition foods produced by John Roulac’s Nutiva company in California. Roulac’s delicious hemp products were partially made with Kenex hempseed, and the DEA had tried to force Roulac to forfeit his products to Customs.
So everyone was taken by surprise in early January, when US Customs revealed that the DEA and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) had demanded that Customs once again begin seizing hemp products containing any amount of THC.
The abrupt about-face appears to violate NAFTA and US legislation, with many hemp advocates saying that ONDCP boss General Barry McCaffrey is disregarding both international and American law. This story was breaking as the issue went to press, but expect more Canadian hemp products to be seized by US customs in the coming months.