Canadian Firm That Sued US Over Hemp Foods Ban Set to Meet With Array of Feds -- NAFTA Rules Force US to Talk to Kenex 3/22/02

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Kenex, Ltd., the Canadian hemp production firm that is preparing to sue the US under provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) over the DEA's attempted administrative ban on hemp food products containing detectable trace amounts of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, is set to meet with representatives of an array of federal agencies on Monday. The meeting is to discuss the company's notice of intent to sue, which was filed in January, and is required under NAFTA rules.

Kenex will meet with representatives from the Departments of State, Justice, Treasury and Commerce, as well as the DEA, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the US Customs Service, and the Office of the US Trade Representative.

While hemp supporters expect little concrete gains from the meeting, they are pleased to see the US government being held to account under NAFTA. "The DEA failed to provide any notice and opportunity to US trading partners or foreign companies to provide input into its ruling, as required under NAFTA," said Alexis Baden-Meyer of VoteHemp (http://www.votehemp.com). "Neither did it conduct a risk assessment or offer any science-based rationale for issuance of the rule, nor did the DEA did seek to minimize impact on trade, and it has not similarly regulated poppy seeds and their trace opiates. But now, the US government has to play by the NAFTA rules."

Kenex filed notice of suit under NAFTA after suffering economic hardship because of the DEA administrative rule, which has now been put on hold by the federal courts. "A few million dollars would not even begin to cover the cost of the financial hardships Kenex has suffered through DEA's harassment of our business and the hemp food marketplace in general," said Kenex president Jean Laprise. "Since the DEA's new rule was announced, our US hemp seed and oil sales have virtually ceased. If the DEA is not stopped, we are finished," he said. "Tallying our current and future losses, we expect to be compensated at least $20 million under NAFTA."

Although hemp supporters are not sanguine about changing minds at the State Department on Monday, the federal government may soon be under added pressure to act. According to a news release from Mintwood Media this week, other similarly affected Canadian hemp companies are considering joining Kenex in filing their own NAFTA actions. Nature's Path Foods, Inc. and Nature's Path Foods USA, Inc., which operate food plants in the US and Canada that produce two of North America's best-selling natural granolas and waffles under their Hemp Plus® sub-brands, project losing over $30 million in investments and future revenue, and will have to lay off employees, if the DEA's interpretive rule is not defeated. Nature's Path is currently evaluating its options.

Kenex investor Anita Roddick, a founder of the Body Shop, one of the country's largest hemp product retailers, told Mintwood the recalcitrant attitude of the DEA necessitated the NAFTA action. "The blind prejudice and bloody-mindedness of the DEA takes my breath away, especially when its actions are in direct contradiction to Congress," said Roddick. "This is one instance when we have to invoke NAFTA. Without its protection, the future is bleak for hemp companies like Kenex."

Activists watching the Kenex NAFTA action may want to note the astute use of existing international bodies or treaties not necessarily considered friendly to hemp, or, more broadly, to drug reform in general. Similar acts of political ju-jitsu may be of service in any number of drug-reform related areas, such as medicinal marijuana in the event it is legalized in other countries.

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Issue #229, 3/22/02 Editorial: Congress's Bad Joke | DRCNet Launching John W. Perry Scholarship Fund for Students Losing Aid Because of Drug Convictions at NYC Event on March 26 | Alert: Tell Congress to Repeal the HEA Drug Provision in Full | Supreme Court Hears Arguments in High School Drug Testing Case -- Comments by Justices Ominous | 3th Anniversary of Shafer Commission Report -- New Nixon Tapes Reveal Twisted Thinking at Root of Modern Marijuana War | Bush Administration Asks Congress to Lift All Restrictions on Aid to Colombia | Colorado State University Opens Nation's First College Drug Court | Canadian Firm That Sued US Over Hemp Foods Ban Set to Meet With Array of Feds -- NAFTA Rules Force US to Talk to Kenex | Medical Marijuana Bills Still Moving in Maryland, Vermont | Sentencing Project Study Finds 135,000 Children Affected by Welfare Ban for Drug Offenders | Alerts: HEA, Bolivia, DEA Hemp Ban, SuperBowl Ad, Ecstasy Legislation, Mandatory Minimums, Medical Marijuana, Virginia | The Reformer's Calendar
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