As part of an initiative to examine the legitimacy of legal arguments by military personnel that fail marijuana drug tests but claim they encountered intoxicating Tetra Hydrocannabinol (THC) via the legal ingestion of hemp products, the U.S. military directed laboratory testing of a wide variety of hemp food and cosmetic products. The findings of the new research, published in the July/August 2008 Journal of Analytical Toxicology, indicate that not only do hemp products in the marketplace not contain hemp at levels that would cause intoxication or failed drug tests, the vast majority of the tests did not detect any THC.
While this new data will help government prosecutors in court prove that the defendants obtained THC from marijuana and not hemp, it confounds a decades-long government initiative to prevent commerce of hemp products, and to ban hemp agriculture in the U.S. under the misguided “drug-war” campaign that tried to construe hemp as the same as marijuana.
On February 6, 2004, the Hemp Industries Association won its 2 ½-year old lawsuit against the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The unanimous decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit permanently blocks DEA regulations that attempted to ban nutritious hemp foods such as waffles, breads, cereals, vegetarian burgers, protein powders, non-dairy beverages, salad dressings and nutrition bars. These are the types of products that were analyzed as part of the government research.
Hemp Protein Powder and Shelled Hemp Seed produced and marketed by Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods & Oils (www.manitobaharvest.com) were among the hemp foods tested and found to have non-detectable levels of THC. “It is frustrating that one agency of the U.S. government continues to wage a war against industrial hemp claiming that its the same as marijuana, and yet at the same time they are doing research demonstrating how it does not contain significant levels of THC and therefore noting that military personnel can’t reasonably claim that hemp foods cause a failed drug test,” says Mike Fata, President and co-founder of Manitoba Harvest.
Ever the since the decision was announced and the negative stigma removed, sales of hemp has blossomed in the marketplace and products are now widely available at a wide variety of retail venues including mainstream grocery chains. Sales of hemp foods alone grew by more than 55% from December 2006 to December 2007. Sales at Manitoba Harvest have thrived in the wake of the 2004 court decision, growing more than 1,000% over the past 5 years and earning the company a spot on the Profit 100 list of the fastest growing private companies in Canada.
Despite the spike in market demand for healthy hemp products and the research that indicates that hemp is vastly different from marijuana, the U.S. government continues to defend its position that hemp agriculture should be banned, despite the fact that hemp agriculture is legal in every other major industrialized nation in the world. The report even notes how closely regulated hemp farming is to prevent abuse “the majority of the hemp used by U.S. industry is grown in Canada under strict government control.” States including North Dakota and Vermont have recently passed laws to allow hemp farming, but they are being blocked by federal U.S. government policy.
Hemp foods are gaining more and more recognition from nutrition experts due to their high concentration of Omega-3 and Omega-6 Essential Fatty Acids, strong digestible protein profile, soluble and insoluble fiber content, and their host of vitamins and minerals. Chefs and consumers are seeking hemp because of its pleasant nutty flavor. The challenge facing hemp foods in America was not of being discovered and having its health and flavor merits recognized; rather, the challenge was having misunderstandings and myths debunked.
The analysis and report follows-up on similar research performed in 2003, and it notes how THC has been declining. The report states “Seed decontamination and manufacturing processes including wash steps and cold pressing for hemp products have improved since the mid-1990s, leading to much lower THC concentrations currently found in today’s commercial products.”
Manitoba Harvest - An Award Winning Hemp Foods Pioneer
Founded in 1998, Manitoba Harvest’s mission is to create the healthiest hemp foods, to educate the public about healthy lifestyle choices and to support sustainable agriculture. Manitoba Harvest was honored with the 2006 Socially Responsible Business Award at Natural Products Expo East for their work pioneering sustainable organic hemp agriculture in North America. The company just announced new Organic Dark Chocolate and Organic Vanilla Hemp Protein Powders. In addition, Manitoba Harvest produces an award-winning line of Hemp Bliss organic hempmilk, organic cold-pressed Hemp Seed Oil, Shelled Hemp Seed, Hemp Seed Butter and Hemp Protein Powder and Hemp Protein & Fiber Powder. Their products are distributed to thousands of stores in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Japan and are also sold as bulk ingredients to food and cosmetic manufacturers. To learn more, please visit www.manitobaharvest.com.