Hemp foods get court OK
Rejecting one front of the government’s drug war, a federal appeals court ruled Friday the United States cannot ban the sale of food made with natural hemp that contains only trace amounts of the psychoactive chemical in marijuana.
The decision overturns the Drug Enforcement Administration’s ban on the domestic sale of hemp food products.
In Nevada County, where edible or drinkable items made with hemp can be found at numerous natural food stores, the reaction to the decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was met with both indifference and commendation.
Linda Christopherson, a buyer for Natural Valley Health Foods in the Glenbrook Basin, said the perception that foods with hemp cause health problems is absurd.
“I’ve heard about this and read about it for years,” she said. “People who believe (eating hemp is harmful) are reacting on presupposed ideas. They’re just not informed.”
Natural Valley Health Foods sells hemp-seed butter, lip balm with hemp and hemp oil. When used as an edible substance, she said, hemp contains healthful omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce the risk of heart disease and promote a healthy cardiovascular system.
Gabriel Herrera, a clerk at the Mother Trucker’s store on the San Juan Ridge, said the store sells cheese, protein powder, granola and chocolate – all with hemp seeds.
The hemp oil, especially, serves as a good alternative to soy-based products, he said.
“There’s certainly a demand for it here,” he said.
Natural Selection Food and Wine Warehouse in Grass Valley is another store that sells a wide variety of products made with hemp, including waffles and vegan cookies made by local merchant Bill DeGroot.
“You don’t get high from eating these cookies,” clerk Ian Lawrence said. “That’s not why people buy this stuff.
“It’s not harmful,” he added. “I have a hard time even tasting the (hemp) sometimes.”
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had suspended the prohibition so judges could hear a challenge from the hemp industry, which has been allowed to sell its products while awaiting the court’s decision.
On Friday, the court said that though the DEA has regulatory authority over marijuana and synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the agency did not follow the law in asserting authority over hemp food products, as well.
The Hemp Industries Association, which represents more than 200 companies, had challenged the legality of the ban and applauded Friday’s decision.
The DEA was reviewing the decision Friday and would not comment, spokesman Bill Grant said.
Hemp is a plant related to marijuana. Fiber from it has long been used for paper, clothing, rope and other product
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