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The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will ban the sale of all hemp food products effective April 21, barring a successful court challenge by industry leaders. The March 21 ruling by the DEA is virtually identical to the agency's "Interpretive Rule" issued Oct. 9, 2002, which was blocked by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals after a challege by the Hemp Industries Association (HIA). HIA spokesman David Bronner said the group, which petitioned the appeals court last week to overturn the agency's ruling, is confident that hemp producers will prevail.
"The DEA's charade of supposedly protecting the public from safe and nutritious hemp food is a finally going to end," Bronner said in a statement. "The court is currently hearing a substantive challenge to the Interpretitive Rule, and in light of the announcement of the "Final Rule," the hemp industry is optimistic that the court will ultimately invalidate the DEA's rule, as one of the prime criteria granting the stay was whether the hemp industry is likely to ultimately prevail on the merits of the case."
The DEA has sought to ban hemp food products because trace amounts of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, are found in hemp seeds. Hemp proponents argue that the miniscule amounts of THC found in hemp seeds are insignificant and non-psychoactive, and that the nutritional value of hemp food products are overlooked by the agency's prohibitionist crusade.