Appeals Court REjects DEA Bid to Outlaw Hemp Foods
> Appeals Court Rejects DEA Bid to Outlaw Hemp Foods
DAVID KRAVETS, AP Legal Affairs Writer
Monday, June 30, 2003
SAN FRANCISCO (AP)
A federal appeals court on Monday overturned a U.S. Drug Enforcement
Administration ban on the sale of food containing hemp, saying the agency
failed to give enough advance warning or allow for public comment before
imposing the rule.
The 2-1 ruling Monday by a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
did not decide the constitutionality of a hemp food ban, but merely
determined that the government did not follow proper bureaucratic
procedure when it announced the ban in October 2001.
In March, the DEA began comporting with the federal Administrative
Procedures Act, and has been sued again by the hemp industry in a
challenge now pending before the appellate court. The ban has been put on
hold pending legal challenges.
In a sharp dissent, Judge Alex Kozinski called the majority's ruling
"gratuitous," and predicted the ban will ultimately prevail. "The most
likely outcome," he wrote, "is that we will uphold the regulation."
Hemp is an industrial plant related to marijuana. Fiber from hemp plants
long has been used to make paper, clothing, rope and other products. Its
oil is found in body-care products such as lotion, soap and cosmetics and
in a host of foods, including energy bars, waffles, milk-free cheese,
veggie burgers and bread.
"We feel strongly that our arguments are bona fide and the court is
listening," said Patrick Goggin, lawyer for the San Francisco-based Hemp
Industries Association, the plaintiff in the case. "We feel reservedly
confident that we are going to get ultimately a favorable decision,"
Goggin said. "Hemp is a wonder crop."
Last year, DEA attorney Daniel Dormont told the appellate court the
agency banned food made with hemp because "there's no way of knowing"
whether some products may get consumers high.
Hemp food sellers say their products are full of nutrition, not drugs,
and they require no pesticide. They say the food contains such a small
amount of the active ingredient in marijuana that it's impossible to get
The DEA declared that food products containing even trace amounts of
tetrahydrocannabinol -- the psychoactive chemical known as THC that is
found in marijuana and sometimes in hemp -- were banned under the
Controlled Substances Act.
DEA spokesman Ed Childress refused to comment, saying that the DEA is
still studying Monday's court decision.
The administration ordered a halt to the production and distribution of
all goods containing THC that were intended for human consumption. The
DEA also ordered all such products destroyed or removed from the United
States, but the 9th Circuit suspended that order pending a decision.
The case is Hemp Industries Association v. Drug Enforcement
Editors: David Kravets has been covering state and federal courts for a
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