Hemp Products Hitting the Shelves after Judge’s Ruling

Hemp foods and body-care products are legal U.S. after court of appeals ruling.

| July/August 2004

  • Arthur Hanks of the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance.
    courtesy of Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance.
  • Freshly harvested hemp seeds.
    courtesy of Manitoba Harvest
  • Arthur Hanks of the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance.
    courtesy of Manitoba Harvest.

A federal judge’s ruling early this year has opened the door for hemp food and body-care products to find their way onto shelves in the U.S. marketplace. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Drug Enforcement Administration had overstepped the bounds of controlled substance laws when it attempted to ban foods containing trace elements of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, more commonly known as THC (the psychoactive component of cannabis). Unless the Justice Department appeals the decision to the Supreme Court — which it had not done by press time — the ruling marks an end to a ban on the sale of hemp products for human consumption.

Hemp is easy and inexpensive to grow and can be made into a variety of everyday products, including paper, fiber, food and fuel. Though it is derived from the same plant species (Cannabis sativa) as marijuana, hemp contains only a trace of THC — an amount comparable to the amount of opiates in poppy seeds. For comparison, hemp contains about 0.3 to 1.5 percent THC, whereas marijuana contains approximately 10 percent or more THC.

Hemp: A Nutritional Powerhouse

• Excellent source of omega-3 and
  omega-6 fatty acids
• High in fiber
• Good source of protein
• Contains all essential amino acids
• Rich in vitamins and minerals, such as
  vitamins E and C

Hemp seeds (and their oil) are high in protein, rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and are used in food and an increasing number of body-care products. In the last few years, the hemp foods industry has exploded from less than $1 million a year to more than $7 million in retail sales, primarily in Canada, where hemp is legal. According to David Bronner, chairman of the Hemp Trade Association committee and principal of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, the ruling is going to blow the market for hemp products wide open. “The decision ... is a huge boost to the hemp food market, and we expect to see many more hemp food products on store shelves,” Bronner said.

Hemp Oil’s Healthy Habits

Hemp seed oil, available at health-food stores, is a true nutritional powerhouse. The oil contains compounds that can benefit heart health, help support good mood and protect the skin from free-radical damage after excess sun exposure. The oil is a rich source of omega-6 (linoleic) and omega-3 (linolenic) essential fatty acids (EFAs). EFAs are essential because they lubricate the skin and tissues and cause cell membranes to function normally.

Getting ample EFAs in your diet can help improve some skin conditions, such as dryness, dandruff and hair loss.



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