On November 30, 2000, the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) announced that it intended to create new administrative rules which would prohibit any hemp product with any measurable quantity of THC from entering the country.
The reaction from the US hemp industry was somewhat mixed. In an open email to his hemp industry associates, Richard Rose of Hemprella said the hemp industry could survive the new rules. “Yes, we absolutely have the technology to provide ‘zero THC’ hempseed and products, tomorrow if necessary… to pretend that we can not comply and that it is really OK for foods to unknowingly contain THC is unrealistic.”
But others within the industry are very concerned about the potential harm of the DEA action. David Bronner of Dr Bronner’s Magic Soaps complained that “the DEA can arbitrarily use however powerful a technique they want for analysis.”
It may be impossible to create hemp seed based products that contain absolutely no THC. A study published in the December 2000 Journal of Analytic Toxicology found that although most of the THC found on a typical hemp seed was contamination on the surface, even the kernels of both “drug- and fibre-type cannabis seeds” contained miniscule yet detectable levels of THC, ranging from 2 to 0.5 parts per million.
Most of the hemp oil in question is being exported from Canada. Don Wirstshafter of the Ohio Hempery explained the Canadian system: “Canada came up with great standards. Ten parts per million is difficult to achieve, but it works as a bottom line. Better, Canada set a definition of ‘below detectable standards.’ This is 4 parts per million. Most of us are achieving this standard and some of us are promoting our products with this standard. This is the standard that the US Customs accepted in their late November, 1999 memo. For a few fine days the US and Canada were on the same page. Then our drug czar got in the way.”
The DEA’s motivation in prohibiting any level of THC is based at least partly on a number of court cases involving failed urine tests. Defendants in the US military and police forces have succesfully claimed that their THC-positive urine tests were the result of consuming hemp oil products.
Although some studies show that consuming hemp seed oils does not produce positive urine tests, the issue is far from resolved. Outgoing US Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey has explained that “to maintain the integrity of the US drug testing system, we cannot allow the legalization of products that may be consumed to contain THC.”
In August 1999, US Customs seized a 40,000 pound shipment of sterilized hemp seed from Kenex in Ontario, and held it until December. The seeds were released under a new Customs policy which permitted very low THC levels. However in January 2000 Customs once again changed its policy, under pressure from McCaffrey and the DEA. The situation has been in a tenuous state since then, and now the newly proposed DEA regulations threaten to end the importation of hemp seed and hemp oils into the USA.
? Hemp Embargo website www.hempembargo.com