Nutiva is Resilient Despite Misguided Policy Holding Hemp Trade as POW in Drug War

Sebastopol, CA – Imagine a hardy “Jack in the Beanstalk” plant that requires no harsh pesticides or herbicides and grows incredibly fast with fibers twice the strength of a tree – while yielding the most nutritious and delicious seed on earth. In this utopian dream the crop will create thousands of jobs for farming communities and the many businesses that can thrive by making products from its virtues. It is a vision of a rediscovered ancient plant cultivated in Asia for more than 7,000 years. This is not a nightmare with mutant plants genetically engineered causing “super weeds” or never discovered “microbes” in the bellies of women and children.

Hemp is the “field of dreams” for eco-entrepreneur and best-selling author John W. Roulac of Nutiva. “Grow it and they will come,” says Roulac as a spoof of the famous movie phrase.

A country whose founding fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp is now engaged in an aggressive war against this perceived green menace. While every other major industrialized nation allows hemp agriculture and commerce, the U.S. has banned hemp farming and is attempting to prohibit importation under the guise of the drug war. Canadian farmers make millions of dollars growing this non-drug crop, yet the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) wastes millions of dollars with it’s Midwest ditch weed eradication program, chopping down feral hemp plants from the World War II “Hemp for Victory” campaign. “You could smoke a pickup load of hemp leaves, and the only effect would be a bad cough,” notes Nutiva Founder and President John W. Roulac.

The fact that industry observers view hemp foods as the “next soy”, with sales surging from nothing a few years ago to over $7,000,000 in 2001, may give the DEA a case of bureaucratic indigestion. A crop described by the DEA as “evil …not economical … little market demand…” has now become a thriving commercial success in both food and fiber. For example, the office supply giant Staples now offers hemp paper ( while GM, Chrysler, and BMW utilize hemp fiber for auto parts. Now the DEA is trying to ban an entire class of foods, including hemp-based salad dressing, oil, cereal and energy bars.

Nutiva, America’s leading hemp food brand, is not only standing up to this bullying, it is introducing a new line of hemp products while suing the Feds and staving off potential jail time for its founder. Nutiva pioneered the original hemp nutrition bar in 1999 and is leading the way again by launching the only certified organic hemp oil widely distributed in the U.S. The organic hemp oil has received a strong response from retailers and consumers in demos last month in the Northwest. It has a delicious nutty flavor and is ideal for salad dressings, pasta oils, steamed veggies and smoothies. In addition to the new hemp oil, Nutiva offers hemp and flax food bars, hemp oil capsules and shelled hempseed. While maligned by a bizarre DEA policy, hempseed is gaining recognition from leading medical professionals as one of the most nutritious foods. As more and more clinical studies demonstrate the critical role played by Essential Fatty Acids (EFA) in the diet, consumers are realizing the incredible nutritional value of hemp. Hempseed contains 25% pure digestible protein and is rich in omega-3 and other EFAs, iron and vitamin E.

Even though hemp contains less than 1% THC (the resin which produces the “high”) compared to marijuana’s 5%-20% THC, the DEA views both crops the same. On October 9, 2001, the DEA proposed a rule to ban all hemp foods and even lip balms. Back in 1999, Roulac found himself in the trenches of the Drug War when U.S. agents impounded a load of hempseed shipped from Kenex - one of Nutiva’s Canadian suppliers. Though DEA dropped its case, the intervention devastated emerging small hemp businesses like Nutiva. In March 2000, the U.S. Department of Justice confirmed that the DEA lacked authority because Congress exempted non-viable hempseed from its control. Nevertheless, the DEA issued its October 2001 rule without any public notice. Like a flashback to the 1999 DEA border raid, a truckload of hempseeds destined for Nutiva was stopped at the border in February 2002 and held for many days.

On March 7, 2002, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted the hemp industry’s Motion to Stay the DEA’s rule. Brought jointly by Nutiva, the Hemp Industries Association and other hemp food companies, the Motion prevents DEA from enforcing its rule pending a decision by the Court. Although it remains legal to distribute edible hemp, the DEA rule has caused uncertainty in the marketplace. Visit for more information on the case.

Nutiva’s guiding principle, “Nourishing People & Planet” is based on the cycle of healthy food stewardship: sustaining the soil; using organic ingredients; maintaining a clean processing operation; ensuring nutritional value; and supporting causes that keep the cycle spinning. Nutiva donates 1% of sales to groups that promote sustainable agriculture. Roulac is recognized as a hemp authority and has authored three best-selling books, Backyard Composting (900,000 sold), Industrial Hemp, and Hemp Horizons, and is the co-author of Hemp Foods & Oils for Health. For more information on Nutiva and industrial hemp, please visit

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