Editorial: History's Dustbin 3/8/02

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David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected], 3/8/02

Early this morning I received the good news that a federal court had "stayed" the DEA's interpretive rule attempting to ban hemp food products (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/227.html#hempfood). A final ruling won't come out for another month -- and it's not official until it's official -- but the fact that the stay was granted means the court is pretty sure the DEA was in the wrong. Chances are they just need a little more time to write the opinion. In the meantime, producers, vendors and consumers are free to distribute, sell, buy and eat the chips, spreads, pretzels, pastas and many other food products made with hemp seed, safe in the knowledge that they are perfectly legal now and will probably continue to be legal.

It's good to see at least one of DEA's idiotic policies get consigned to history's dustbin of bad ideas. But was it really necessary to force honest, law-abiding merchants to take to the courts and the media and the halls of Congress, desperately hoping to save their fledgling but growing industry from government-imposed extinction? Was it necessary to force foreign companies dealing in legal hemp seeds to invoke NAFTA treaty provisions and sue the United States to protect their legitimate and innocuous interests?

DEA chief Asa Hutchinson claimed it was, that they were just obeying the law, which according to Hutchinson banned any quantity of THC, no matter how minute. The problem is, Hutchinson lied. The Controlled Substances Act does indeed make an exception for such foods, as the Department of Justice -- of which the DEA is a part and to whose authority it is subject -- stated in a year 2000 memo that hemp food industry activists procured and made public. And Hutchinson never addressed why, if the law banned these foods, did the DEA in all previous decades since its founding in the 1970s consider the foods legal? DEA clearly knew that what they were doing was illegal, that they were unlawfully conspiring to put a legal industry out of business, hoping to get away with it and assuming they had nothing to lose by trying.

The arrogance is nauseating. What punishment will there be for Hutchinson and the rest of his rogue bureaucrats who willingly participated in this conspiracy? Most probably nothing. But the merchants whose businesses were damaged, and the customers whose culinary options were unfairly inhibited, can at least take solace in the knowledge that Hutchinson's unsuccessful attempt to ban hemp foods is unlikely to be cited in the annals of outstanding public service.

I am confident that more of DEA's bad policies will end up in the historical dustbin. In fact, I believe that with time, the public will come to understand that the very idea of the DEA is inappropriate, not to mention the stupid, extreme form the agency has taken in its implementation.

In the meantime, we seem at least to have won the food fight. Other rights have yet to be won back. But our rationality and integrity will prevail over the corruption and fanaticism of the drug warriors in more than just food freedoms. Have a hemp bar and store up some energy for the next stage. It's coming soon.

-- END --
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Issue #227, 3/8/02 Editorial: History's Dustbin | Swarthmore to Replace Student Aid Lost to HEA Anti-Drug Provision | Alert: Tell Congress to Repeal the HEA Drug Provision in Full | Breaking: Ninth Circuit Court Blocks DEA Hemp Rule | US Drug Warriors Waging Backroom Campaign to Put Their Man Serrano in UN Drug Czar Post | Drug Reform Groups and Paid Advertising: What Are They Getting for Their Money? | Marijuana Foes Fall in California Elections | Hawaii "Treatment Not Jail" Bill Stalled as Key Legislator Unveils Plan for Popular Referendum on Issue | Scotland Ends Drug War, Sort Of | ENCOD Letter to UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs Annual Meeting | Alerts: HEA, Bolivia, DEA Hemp Ban, SuperBowl Ad, Ecstasy Legislation, Mandatory Minimums, Medical Marijuana, Virginia | The Reformer's Calendar
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