Crossposted at Daily Kos

I was stunned to read the hatchet piece “Don’t get sucked in by hemp-laced foods” by Michael C. Barnes in yesterday’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Mr. Barnes’ ability to conflate legal and healthy hemp foods with the flavorings and marketing tactics of marijuana-flavored candy makers is just not to be believed. These lollipops are, in the eyes of the law, pot-on-a-stick and should not in any way be associated with nutritious hemp foods.
Manufacturers of marijuana-flavored candies and confections want people to believe that their products are made from legal hemp seed oil but they are in fact flavored with cannabis flower essential oil or other natural or artificial flavors. Some manufacturers refer to the cannabis flower essential oil as hemp, hemp flavoring, hemp essential oil and/or hemp oil or fail to list this flavoring ingredient on the label at all.

Vote Hemp understood the efforts of the Georgia General Assembly to stop the marketing and sale of marijuana-flavored candies but they opposed SB 511 as it was originally written because of the potential damage to the legitimate and perfectly legal hemp food industry.

Vote Hemp presented written testimony to the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Consumer Affairs urging them to amend SB 511 by removing references to “hemp.” The Committee went one step further, amended the bill, and offered a substitute with the amendment:

“The provisions of this paragraph notwithstanding, nothing in this Code section shall apply to products or foods manufactured with or containing nonpsychoactive hemp oils or nonpsychoactive hemp plant parts.”

Recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit invalidated Drug Enforcement Administration regulations that would have banned the manufacture and sale of edible products made from hemp seed and oil. Hemp Industries Ass’n v. Drug Enforcement Administration, 357 F.2d 1012 (9th Cir. 2004). The Court affirmed that non-psychoactive hemp products do not contain any controlled substance as defined by the CSA and that DEA’s rule “improperly renders naturally-occurring non-psychoactive hemp illegal for the first time.” 357 F.2d at 1017. “Congress knew what it was doing and its intent to exclude non-psychoactive hemp from regulation is entirely clear.” Id. at 1018. The Court found that hemp seed and oil is in the exact same exempted regulatory position as poppy seeds, that are commonly consumed on bagels and are obtained from otherwise controlled, although non-narcotic, opium poppy varieties.

Hemp oil, or hemp seed oil, and cannabis flower essential oil are not synonymous. Hemp seed oil is a vegetable oil and it has a pleasant nutty taste similar to sunflower oil or other oils made from seeds and does not smell or taste anything like marijuana. Many legitimate food and nutritional products are made with hemp seed, hemp oil, and hemp protein powder (made from hemp seed cake) and are sold for their nutritional benefits due to the essential fatty acids which many doctors recommend as part of a good healthy diet. Hemp oil is exempt from the definition of Marijuana in the state of Georgia and it is under federal law as well.

As for trace THC, if the only source of THC in your body is from hemp foods it is virtually impossible to fail a drug test by ingesting hemp foods. Canada’s Industrial Hemp Regulations exempt hemp from their Controlled Substances Act and to ensure hemp’s compliance under the Act, stringent controls have been set in place via the regulations. THC limits have been set by the regulations and THC levels in seed are monitored at the field and processing stages through analytical testing, cost which are borne by the industry. Paper records are kept according to the law and the paper trail is available for government inspection. All hemp is grown is by certified seed, and the federal Government maintains a list of available cultivars, and in an annual review, removes varieties which exceed the legal limit of THC.

In the field THC limits are 0.3% while at the food processing stage, this is 10 parts per million. THC itself is not a component of the seed and can be reduced by cleaning and screening. The industry-created TestPledge standard, adopted by all significant hemp food manufacturers and processors in the USA and Canada, commits them to limits which are below the regulatory limit.

1930’s style “Reefer Madness” media hype no longer works. We and our children are smarter than that. Poorly written op-ed pieces with misspelled names, facts taken out of context, and things just made up from whole cloth will just not cut it.

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