SAN FRANCISCO, California — 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.
Last year, DEA attorney Daniel Dormont told the appellate court that 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. They say the food contains such a small amount of the active ingredient in marijuana that it’s impossible to get high.
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.
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.
(Vgl. Meldung vom 2003-05-14.)
Source: Global Hemp News vom 2003-06-30.