Felony Foods

Bushs DEA criminalizes hemp foods

"The DEA ruling was entirely a political decision. It's not a scientific one," claims David Bronner, president of Escondido-based Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps and chairman of the Hemp Industries Association's (HIA) Food and Oil Committee. He said that many HIA organization members have continued to make and sell their products on the presumption that—lacking a clear scientific standard from the DEA—it is sufficient that their products are THC-free by Canadian standards.

Bronner's product lines aren't affected, as soaps, shampoos and other non-consumables don't fall under the ruling. He's an ardent opponent of it nonetheless.

"Industrial hemp has so much potential to substitute for polluting petrochemicals or threatened timber stocks," he said. Bronner added that hemp also grows readily without pesticides or herbicides.

Like Neuman, he's confident the HIA will prevail in court. Meanwhile there is another challenge to the ruling via an unanticipated medium: NAFTA. Kenex Ltd., a leading Canadian hemp producer, has filed an arbitration claim arguing that the U.S. ruling amounts to an unfair restraint of trade.

Bronner explained, "Under NAFTA, if the U.S. government is going to institute something that's going to affect trade, it has to have some defensible reason, a scientific rationale. The DEA failed to conduct any sort of risk assessment or science-based analysis justifying a ban on trace THC in foodstuffs. Meanwhile, the industry can demonstrate that there are no health concerns or interference with drug tests or anything else. So they're arguing through NAFTA that the U.S. is closing their markets and raising a barrier to trade without following the NAFTA or WTO provisions."

Even prior to October's ruling, the DEA had busied itself by interdicting tons of sterilized hemp birdseed at the Canadian border, thus saving our birds from becoming felons. Unless the HIA prevails in court or NAFTA overrides the law (as it already has in instances usually detrimental to the environment or workers), beware of what you eat: it may contain a felony.

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