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Federal court ruling boosts hemp trade

Hemp seed and oil suppliers to America and nutritional hemp manufacturers are cautiously optimistic that trade will boom now that a federal court has invalidated a two-and-a-half-year effort by the Drug Enforcement Agency to quash the industry.

A three-judge panel in San Francisco ruled unanimously that the DEA ignored Congress? wishes under the Controlled Substances Act that exempts hemp seed, oil and fibre from control.

?The decision will boost demand for our bulk and private label oil and seed products, as well as retail brand hemp food and bodycare products,? said Shaun Crew, president of Hemp Oil Canada.

No hemp for industrial or nutritional usage is grown in the US, so manufacturers have to source it from Canada, the European Union and China, with most of the supply for the foods sector coming from Canada, according to Eric Steenstra, president of Vote Hemp, a nonprofit organisation dedicated to bringing industrial hemp to the free market.

?We expect sales to increase enormously as a result of the court ruling,? said Lynn Gordon, president of French Meadow Bakery, which sells Healthy Hemp Bread. ?DEA was foolish to try to ban hemp seed because it is a rich source of protein, dietary fibre, minerals, iron, vitamin E, and a near-perfect composition of essential fatty acids.?

Shelled hempseed and oil are increasingly used in natural food products, such as bread, nutrition bars, hummus, non-dairy milks, meatless burgers and cereals. US hemp food companies voluntarily observe limits on THC—the psychoactive chemical in hemp—similar to those adopted by European nations, Canada and Australia. These limits protect consumers with a wide margin of safety from drug-testing interference.

Despite the victory, Vote Hemp spokesman Adam Eidinger said the industry will be ?keeping an eye out for shady legislation.? He said this could include Food and Drug Administration involvement, a petition by DEA to Congress, a rider attached to an unrelated Congressional bill, or an appeal to the US Supreme Court.

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