Based on final arguments before the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco on September 17, the Hemp Industries Association (HIA) is predicting it will prevail in its battle to prevent the DEA from banning hemp foods. HIA filed suit on behalf of some 200 North American hemp companies to block the DEA from implementing regulatory "final rules" that would do just that.
"Retailers and manufacturers of hemp foods should be confident that we will win this case," said David Bronner, a board member of both the HIA and Vote Hemp, and Chair of the HIA Food and Oil Committee. "The three judge panel seemed in agreement over our main argument that the DEA's 'Final Rule' ignores Congress' specific exemption in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) under the definition of marihuana that excludes hemp seed and stalk from control. Based on the questions posed to the DEA, it appears the court reasonably views trace insignificant amounts of THC in hemp seed in the same way as it sees trace amounts of opiates in poppy seeds," said Bronner.
In what could be described as an idiosyncratic reading of the Controlled Substances Act, the DEA rejects the plain language exempting hemp seed and its products from the act. But the court wasn't buying it, even Judge Alex Kozinski, whom the hempsters had regarded with some trepidation. According to the transcript, Judge Kozinski read back the relevant section to DEA attorney Daniel Dormont three times. By the third occasion, a frustrated Kozinski growled "...I tried to say it once before. What this tells me is Congress knew full well that stalks and seeds and fiber could be carriers of some level of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). They were aware of that. Nevertheless, it said unless you do the extracting part they are not marihuana under the definition. That is what it says to me."
The HIA expects a ruling within six months. In the meantime, hemp foods remain perfectly legal, thanks to the HIA's aggressive legal strategy. In earlier rounds, the HIA managed to fend off a DEA "interim rule" with a court-ordered permanent injunction. That "interim rule" is identical to the "final rule" now under scrutiny by the court.
Visit http://www.votehemp.com/PDF/Oral_Arguments_HIAvDEA.pdf to read the complete transcript of the oral arguments.