DEA is protecting us from the evils of snack chips : LUSENET : Beyond the Sidewalks : One Thread

White House Watch: THC madness

The drug war blunders on: The DEA is cracking down on hempseed oil in tortilla chips

Sunday, December 09, 2001

By Ann McFeatters

WASHINGTON - And now, for something completely different, to borrow a phrase from Monty Python.

The three earnest young men burdened with plastic bags came to the office bearing food. Pretzels with seeds. A snack bar. An energy bar. Tortilla chips.

Never mind the caloric sin. We're talking serious evil here.Or so the government says.

Unless you are an avid reader of the Federal Register and perused the tiny print of almost undecipherable bureaucratese on pages 51,539 through 51,544, you might have missed it -- but the government has returned to normal.

The Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Asa Hutchinson, the former GOP congressman from Arkansas, has announced rules to ban certain brands of a wide variety of foods -- "beer, cheese, coffee, corn chips, energy drink, flour, ice cream, snack bars, salad oil, soda and veggie burgers" -- if they contain trace amounts of THC.

THC, as those who came to the age of majority in the 1960s know well, is tetrahydrocannabinols. As DEA succinctly explains: "That's the hallucinogenic substance in marijuana that causes the psychoactive effect or high."

The THC found in certain brands of the above-mentioned food comes from hempseeds and hempseed oil, popular with some so-called "natural food" manufacturers because they are high in protein and serve as a fatty acid supplement -- "good fats" that doctors like. But DEA says such foods are now controlled substances illegal for everyone.

Makers of foods with hempseeds or oil, with $5 million in annual sales, argue that the amount of THC is so infinitesimal that inhumanly high consumption of them would be required to get high. They liken it to getting a buzz from eating the opiate-containing poppy seeds on bagels or the alcohol in orange juice.

But the Controlled Substances Act says that any consumption of THC is forbidden. And any food that contains it is no longer to be sold, distributed or eaten.

Says the DEA: "If you wish to err on the side of caution, you may freely dispose of the product. As stated in the rules that DEA published on Oct. 9, 2001, anyone who has purchased a food or beverage product that contains THC has 120 days (until Feb. 6, 2002) to dispose of the product without penalty under federal law."

After Feb. 6, it will be illegal to sell or import any hemp-containing foods.

The DEA, in its wisdom, notes that bird seed with cannabis seeds, clothing such as hats, shirt and shoes, cosmetics, lotion, paper, rope, twine and, yes, shampoo and soap, which also can contain hemp, are not illegal. "Based on the information currently available, DEA believes that [such products] do not cause THC to enter the human body and are therefore legal."

Confronted with the thought that the government's investing time, money and energy in such a campaign during a time of war is, possibly, ridiculous, Hutchinson says, "Many Americans do not know that hemp and marijuana are both parts of the same plant and that hemp cannot be produced without producing marijuana."

Not surprisingly, supporters of food with hempseed oil have gone to court, beseeching the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to block the DEA rule. DEA says it is permitted to issue the ban on THC-laced products without a formal rule-making procedure although the public may comment until Dec. 10. "It's like the judge announcing the verdict before the trial," complained John Young, a lawyer for the hemp-food lawsuit, to the National Law Journal.

Groups which are applauding the DEA's action, such as the conservative Family Research Council, say food with hempseeds sends a pro-drug message to children and is camouflage for a campaign to legalize marijuana.

The other day, confronted by a man in Florida who said the government was not responding to his needs, President Bush muttered, "I can't stand bureaucracy."

Bush remembered the cameras were rolling and said that he appreciated "the hard-working people who care enough to work for the government. But what I don't like is systems that get so cumbersome that those who are trying to help you don't get the product out."

In the course of writing this, I have munched on the 120-calorie corn chips, the 220-calorie pretzels and devoured the 170-calorie snack bar. In truth, I feel nothing but my waistband.

And a curious desire to watch "Monty Python's Flying Circus."

Ann McFeatters is National Bureau chief for the Post-Gazette and The Blade of Toledo, Ohio. Her e-mail address is amcfeatters@

-- Anonymous, December 11, 2001



Thank you oh benevolent government!

Groups which are applauding the DEA's action, such as the conservative Family Research Council, say food with hempseeds sends a pro-drug message to children and is camouflage for a campaign to legalize marijuana.

I'm sure glad the moralists and professional hand-wringers want to save my blackend soul from the evil hempseed, too.

It's things like this that bring to mind a great quote by H.L. Mencken:

Every normal man must be tempted at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.

I agree with Mencken.

Where do I begin... >:-\

-- Anonymous, December 11, 2001

????There is alcohol in orange juice???!! Woo Hoo. Jim, remember that first you pillage and THEN you burn, 'kay?

-- Anonymous, December 11, 2001

Question: what the hell is in those Doritos that turn your tongue BLUE!? Now thats something to ban. I am still shuddering at the vision of my kids blue rimmed mouths. I better drink lotsa orange juice next time someone gives them those chips.

-- Anonymous, December 11, 2001

Jim, remember that first you pillage and THEN you burn, 'kay?

(chanting to self)
Pillage/Burn, Pillage/Burn, Pillage/Burn...


-- Anonymous, December 11, 2001


What are they, some kind of industrial waste-flavored Dorito? I must have missed those at the grocery store... ;-)

-- Anonymous, December 11, 2001

I think that those folks at the DEA must be TERRIBLY bored and need a real job as quick as possible, perhaps picking up trash along the interstates, at least they would be doing something actually USEFUL then.

Yet another good reason to vote the Libertarian ticket, reclassifying "illegal" drugs as controlled substances to be properly regulated and TAXED, much like alcohol and cigarettes are, makes ALOT more sense to me. Such a waste of our hard earned tax payer's dollars, the DEA. Make money off drugs, trying to eliminate them is foolhardy and pointless, as Prohibition so dramatically showed us back in the early 1900's.

What is your opinion on this? Or am I the only one with this opinion?

-- Anonymous, December 11, 2001

Yeah, I agree with you for the most part, Annie. Although the taxing of these drugs may cause problems similar to what's occuring right now. I've argued in the past that the ever increasing rates on cigarette taxes (in an attempt by the moralists and hand wringers to control people's behavior) may drive it into the black market eventually.

I could see that happening with the "illicit" drugs, too...

-- Anonymous, December 11, 2001

They're insane! I'm in favor of legalization of hemp. I'll be back tomorrow for other thoughts [bet you can't wait].

-- Anonymous, December 12, 2001

Good point Jim-Bob, but I think if we had all those other substances available to tax, that would spread the tax burden wider, they ( the Feds and States) wouldn't have to try to make all their money off of just alcohol and cigarettes.

-- Anonymous, December 12, 2001

This is over the top moronic! Its almost unbelievable how stuuuupid these folks can be.

I just heard that Wisc is considering a medical MJ law. Its likely to pass the state house but not the senate.

It really makes me wonder if they're actually as stupid as they seem or if they're protecting someone elses agenda.

I agree with the others, legalize it, tax it, use the proceeds for anti drug education and treatment centers. Then theres the substantial tax savings that would accrue to the government for all the folks who would no longer be in prison, jail, on probation, parole etc. Once MJ was legalized commercial hemp would also be legal. There an added advantage to that I've never seen addressed.

Since 4 times the amount of cellulose can be grown with hemp on a given acre of land we'd have an annual crop that could be grown by farmers. Then all the trees that are harvested for papermaking would no longer be needed for that purpose. Eventually it would drive down the prices for lumber, thus building costs would come down too.

-- Anonymous, December 12, 2001

In addeum to what Jim just said, I read a very amusing article years ago (college days) with the catchline at the end about people being unclear on the concept that hemp products do not contain any effective amount of THC -- "Hey! Who smoked up all the toilet paper?!?!!!"

Hemp also produces that amount of available cellulose ANNUALLY, rather than in 20 years time, so that becomes more like 80 times the production.

The anti-hemp crowd does not want the public made aware of the benefits of growing hemp. Hemp also does not require the ridiculous amounts of pesticides, fungicides, and fertilizers dumped on the ground that growing things like cotton entail -- and it produces a fiber that is far superior to cotton.

Ever hear about the original Levi's being nearly impossible to wear out? Ever wonder why your cotton Levi's wear out so fast? They were originally made out of hemp. Planned obsolescence.

In conjunction with an art class I had years past, we were looking in the University's rare book collection at some books, hundreds of years old, that were still in fabulous condition with beautiful paper. Ever notice how your books start to get brittle and fall apart inside of ten or so years? That's because they are made out of wood pulp, rather than hemp, like they were hundreds of years ago.

I doubt that book publishers are pulling strings here to sell more books, but I am less sanguine about the lumber 'industry'.

-- Anonymous, December 12, 2001

It is really quite a beautiful plant. I have always found it very annoying that it is illegal to grow it. I have read all sorts of things about making rope etc. from hemp. Think they will ever allow it??

-- Anonymous, December 12, 2001

I sat down tonght to read this post for the first time...with a hunk of cheese and a partial bag of corn chips...and this is what our govt. is checking up on?? Don't they have better things to do? Is this what our tax dollars are being spent on? Okay...what really want to know is how many bags of corn chips should I eat before I realize that something "funny" is happening OR how much cheese?? I love cheese! And to think that I've been cutting up most of my old worn out Levis for patches!!!! What a waste!

-- Anonymous, December 12, 2001

The history of hemp in this country is a fascinating one.

William Randolph Hearst was instrumental in getting it made illegal. He owned vast tracts of forest in order to supply the pulp for paper for his newspapers. He also wanted to preserve the market for other wood products. In fact, if you want to read horror stories, dig a little into the history of the "big names" in big business in this country. Check out DuPont and Ford and their Nazi connections. It's far to involved for me to summarize here.

Industrial hemp and high-THC cannabis, though developed from the same plant, are worlds apart. Sort of like a chihuahua and a rottweiler -- both dogs, both very different. Growing medicinal/recreational high- THC anywhere near industrial hemp would be really stupid, as they will readily cross and "ruin" the high-THC cannabis. So anyone growing industrial hemp would have no incentive to conceal high-THC cannabis amongst the industrial hemp. It would no longer have that "kick". They also look different. Same appearance of the leaves, but the industrial hemp is taller, straighter, fewer branches and much longer fibers. The high-THC plants are shorter, stubbier, bushier.

I read an opinion that drug-enforcement, such as the DEA, has a vested interest in maintaining any variety of cannabis as illegal to grow, as they spend a great deal of their effort on eliminating "ditch weed". The writer opined that this served the purpose of them "having something to show for their efforts" without pointing up their miserable failure in the "war on drugs". I don't know if any of that is true, but it was something to think about.

-- Anonymous, December 12, 2001

For the whole story on Hemp/MJ see if you can find The Emporer Wears No Clothes by Jack Herrer, published I think by the Oregon initiative for the legalization of hemp.

I recall a time many years ago some of my buddies found a patch of ditch weed. They took a stretch van in the dark of night and "liberated" that ditch weed. It looked like a Cheech and Chong episode 'cause when they pulled into my driveway that nite, about 2AM, the van was STUFFED with these huge plants.

OMIGAWD, it was the mother load we thot. Yeah right! You could smoke an OZ of that stuff and all you'd get was a headache and a really bad cough.

-- Anonymous, December 12, 2001

I agree. It should be legalized just for the conservation of the trees alone. I know Joy said there is a big difference in THC between commercial and recreational crops, but it doesn't matter what they grow as far as I'm concerned. If someone wants to get high, that's fine with me. Why can't the government stay out of our lives?

-- Anonymous, December 13, 2001

I agree Denise. If they'd only look at the issue objectively they'd see that most pot smokers are constructive members of society. They've demonized the herb so badly tho that alot of folks are really clueless.

BTW check out Its sponsered and started by George Soros, one of Americas multi-billionaires.

-- Anonymous, December 13, 2001

Hemp could be an excellent replacement crop for tobacco in the southern states, it could be a real boon to their economy.

-- Anonymous, December 13, 2001

Went to the site that John indicated and found this document: (you need Acrobat Reader to access it). It's a 35+ page report titled THC in Hemp Foods & Cosmetics: The Appropriate Risk Assessment

It's very interesting, as much as I have read so far. Don't let the 35 pages put you off -- it begins with a summary of a mere two pages. You can read the rest if it interests you.

I'm not opposed to the legalization of recreational possession and usage of marijuana, but it's not a priority with me. Tying legality of industrial hemp to legality of "medical type" marijuana seems to mean that we will NEVER see industrial hemp legalized.

Oh, and just to correct a possible misapprehension, the "horror" stories involving duPont and Ford don't have anything to do with hemp.

-- Anonymous, December 13, 2001

Hmmmm? Joy. About this "I'm not opposed to the legalization of recreational possession and usage of marijuana, but it's not a priority with me. Tying legality of industrial hemp to legality of "medical type" marijuana seems to mean that we will NEVER see industrial hemp legalized"

Thats the problem to me. The DEA sez we can't legalize medical MJ because it makes people crazy. Then they say we can't allow industrial hemp because it has THC in it, ergo it makes people crazy. Its a handy circular argument that doesn't really hold water.

The whole reefer madness hype is based in the idea that it makes people nutz, stupid, "immoral", lazy, hungry(joke) and addicted. I think it would be a good idea for the media to examine the lives of the people who are in the forefront of the medical MJ fight to demonstrate that they're none of the things that presumably caused MJ to be made illegal in the first place. If they're shown to be ordinary folks, decent, well meaning people who hold jobs and are competant at their work then the bogus stigma might gradually disappear.

You hardly ever hear that aspect of the "discussion" addressed and that's the real issue isn't it?

-- Anonymous, December 14, 2001

I'll never understand how a natural God given plant can be made illegal. I can understand making something illegal that has been processed by man, but not something that occurs naturally. The government in effect is saying that in this case what God made is bad. How can that be?

-- Anonymous, December 24, 2001

Moderation questions? read the FAQ