DEA grants delay on hemp-food ban

February 09, 2002|By Arthur Hirsch | Arthur Hirsch,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

The American hemp-food industry has been given an 11th-hour reprieve by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, which has decided to delay by 40 days its enforcement of rules barring the sale of foods containing THC, the psychoactive chemical in marijuana, DEA spokesman Will Glaspy says.

In October, the DEA had set Thursday as the deadline for stores to remove from their shelves all food products made with hempseed or hempseed oil, which contain trace amounts of THC.

The DEA has not claimed that the foods - including waffles, snack chips and salad oil - cause intoxication, only that the law sets no standard for allowable amounts of THC. The ruling does not apply to soaps or cosmetics made with hemp. The DEA decision postpones further action until March 18, allowing more time for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco to rule on a hemp-food industry challenge to the DEA's ruling in October.

DEA spokeswoman Rogene Waite has said the clarification was prompted by many questions about hemp foods, which have become more prevalent on U.S. store shelves since the mid-1990s. Americans buy about $5 million to $7 million in hemp foods a year, industry representatives say.

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