Bagel Break


Vote Hemp has posted the transcript from this month's oral arguments in Hemp Industries Association v. DEA, which challenges the Drug Enforcement Administration's proposed ban on hemp foods. The DEA originally tried to ban these products, which are not psychoactive but may contain trace amounts of THC, through an "interpretive rule," saying it was simply clarifying the law. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit rejected that maneuver, which contradicted what everyone (including the Justice Department) had always thought the law required. Now the DEA is trying to ban hemp foods through regulations issued the usual way, after a public comment period.

The problem is that the rule, which has been stayed pending the outcome of the case, still contradicts Congress's explicit exemption of hemp seeds (used in the food products the DEA wants to ban) from the federal prohibition of marijuana. During the oral arguments, Judge Alex Kozinski repeatedly pressed the DEA's attorney to explain how the agency could ignore this exemption:

Congress knew full fell that stalks and seeds and fiber could be carriers of some level of tetrahydrocannabinol….Nevertheless, it says that unless you do the extracting part they are not marijuana under the definition. That is what it says to me. And hasn't the agency, in fact, nullified this sentence in the statute by modifying the definition of THC to cover exactly what Congress exempted?

Kozinski also observed that poppy seeds, like hemp seeds, contain trace amounts of controlled substances, asking, "Can you tell me how you are going to save the bagel?"

A decision in the case is expected within six months.