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Industrial Hemp


HARRELSON'S HEMP SEEDS LEGAL, JURY SAYS QUICKLY

BEATTYVILLE - The legislature said hemp and marijuana are one and the same.

The state's highest court agreed.

But five women and one man from Lee County said yesterday that actor Woody Harrelson didn't break the law when he planted four hemp seeds four years ago in a grassy Lee County field.

The jury took only 20 minutes to find Harrelson not guilty of a misdemeanor charge of possession of marijuana.

"That wasn't marijuana he planted, if he planted anything," juror Sylvia Caldwell said as she left Lee District Court with Harrelson's autograph on a piece of hemp paper.

Outside the courthouse, a crowd of cheering, squealing fans waited for the 39-year-old actor in the dark hemp suit. They carried hand-lettered signs that said "We Support Hemp."

The decision flew in the face of a law passed by the General Assembly in 1992 and upheld last March by a unanimous state Supreme Court.

It also ended a case that began on June 1, 1996, when Harrelson wielded a grubbing hoe to challenge the law, which does not distinguish between marijuana and hemp. The latter contains only a minute amount of the psychoactive ingredient that gives marijuana smokers a high.

Harrelson won initially in lower courts, but the state's high court overturned the ruling. That set up yesterday's trial, in which Harrelson faced up to a year in jail and a $500 fine.

Former Gov. Louie Nunn, one of Harrelson's four attorneys, challenged the law in his closing argument when he held up a candy bar made from hemp seeds, then took a small bite.

"Now I've got it in me and I've got it on me," he said. "If you think Mr. Harrelson should be put in jail for one year or one week or even one night, I guess we'll be there together."

Lee County Attorney Tom Jones said a videotape of Harrelson holding out the seeds before planting them, and his repeated statements that he was challenging the law, proved he knew he was committing a crime. He asked the jury to convict the actor and give him the maximum fine and at least 30 days in jail. "Mr. Harrelson has this coming," Jones said. "He misused his fame."

Jones also tried to suggest that Harrelson had another motive: Using legalized hemp as a steppingstone to legalized marijuana. Harrelson testified that he supports legalizing marijuana, but said "it's a totally separate issue." Jones said afterward that he respected the jury's decision. He said Harrelson is a likable person. But he also said, "he's guilty as sin."

Nunn said he has never seen any of Harrelson's movies and didn't meet him until Tuesday. He said he took the case for free because he supports hemp as a crop for Kentucky farmers.

He told jurors that the authors of the Constitution set up the jury system as a safeguard against bad laws or biased judges. "What's important here today is to see the blessings of liberty guaranteed in the Constitution are carred out," he said. "What you do here today will go out all over this nation. It will say whether justice will prevail."

Harrelson's appearance in Beattyville created a stir. He was mobbed by autograph-seekers during several breaks in the trial. They included Sylvia Sparks and her daughter, Teanna Glass, both of Beattyville. "It's the first time I've ever seen an actor up close," Sparks said. "I saw Patrick Swayze when he was here, but that was from a distance. This was close." "I love all his movies," Glass said.

After the verdict, Harrelson said that as the jury came back he was worried he might be heading to jail. "Technically, I guess I violated the law from what the Supreme Court says the law is," he said.

His hemp battle in Kentucky is over, Harrelson said. He turned the fight over to Nunn, who said that some legislators who support hemp have "political apprehensions" about voting for it.

Charles Beal II, another of Harrelson's attorneys, suggested the law might still be changed to allow hemp cultivation in Kentucky. "When the law changes, Woody would be the first to come back and plant it legally," he said.

Clip from:
THE LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER
Lexington, Kentucky
August 25, 2000
By Andy Mead
Herald-Leader Staff Writer

INDUSTRIAL HEMP PLANTED ON PINE RIDGE RESERVATION

On April 29, members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe planted over an acre of industrial hemp at two sites on their Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. In doing so, they implemented a Tribal Ordinance passed in 1998 that allows for the cultivation and harvesting of industrial hemp on the Reservation.

April 29 was also the 132nd anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of 1868, which granted the Tribe sovereign status. Joe American Horse, former President of the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council and Program Manager for the Slim Butte Land Use Association (the group that spearheaded the effort to initiate industrial hemp production on the Reservation), stated on the reservation's radio show that he will plant the seeds to affirm the Tribe's jurisdiction over tribal lands.

In addition, leaders hope that industrial hemp will eventually help alleviate housing shortage problems faced by the Reservation. The Slim Butte Land Use Association currently makes a hemp-based concrete building product out of hemp imported from Canada. The group is in the process of constructing a house from these blocks.

Although the Tribe will use the first hemp crop primarily to gather and save seeds for future plantings, it plans to further explore product applications such as hemp concrete and paper once the crop is established.

For more information, contact Tom Cook of the Slim Butte Land Use Association at mailto:slmbttsag@bbc.net

LAKOTA TRIBE CHALLENGES DEA'S HEMP BAN

The Lakota are growing hemp. But the tribe isn't breaking any laws. They're just living up to their end of the Treaty of 1868.

Here on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in South Dakota, its like it happened only a decade ago. Custer and his arrogance. The noisy, jangling cavalry detachments patrolling the prairie who were cut to pieces by Lakota warriors. You hear it often: "The US government never beat us in the field. They starved us out, but they couldn't defeat us in the field."

The Fort Laramie was supposed to prevent the bloodshed of the great Sioux War. When ten Sioux sub-tribes, together with the Arapaho, signed the pact on April 29, 1868, they believed they had negotiated a huge victory. The treaty promised Native sovereignty over a region encompassing five, present-day western states while the military was required to abandon their forts. For a moment, it was as if the clock had been turned back.

But the treaty was violated soon after when miners in search of gold were led into the sacred Black Hills by Custer himself. The government opted to do nothing allowing the situation to fester to the point where military action against the outraged Sioux was undertaken. Though Custer was soundly defeated at the Little Big Horn, by 1877 the last of the free bands of Lakota, led by the brilliant Oglala warrior Crazy Horse, surrendered rather than starve.

Although the quality of Native American life varies from reservation to reservation, at Pine Ridge Indian life is unimaginably bleak. Unemployment hovers between 70 and 90 percent. The scourge of rampant alcoholism, disease and poverty challenge Oglala Lakota leaders who seek new economic opportunities for the tribe.

Since the mid-1990s the Slim Butte Land Use Association, a group of Oglala Lakota landowners, has been spearheading efforts to grow low-THC industrial hemp on Pine Ridge land. The LUA has moved quietly forward and have even constructed a house made of 60 percent hemp materials to demonstrate the crop's capacity for improving the quality of reservation life. Now, however, the Treaty of 1868 is being invoked to achieve their goals.

The 1868 treaty made specific references to agriculture on the reservation with allowances for land allotment, seeds, farm implements, education and other means with which the Sioux were encouraged to make the transition from hunting to farming. Lakota leaders who signed understood this, and US law states that treaties are to be interpreted by tribal leaders as they understood them.

Hemp was the only fiber crop capable of producing clothing on the reservation in 1868. By the late 19th Century, hemp was already widely farmed across America. Certainly, it was one of the crops the government hoped Indians would cultivate. In fact, feral hemp grows today on Pine Ridge indicating that it, indeed, had been a reservation crop at some time.

Choosing the anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of 1868, members of the tribe went forward this spring and planted hemp seeds in two separate, isolated locations on Pine Ridge. Loretta Afraid of Bear Cook, the chairperson of the Slim Butte Land Use Association, and her husband Tom, who heads up the hemp building projects, led a small crew of field hands into the pre-plowed fields and proceeded to sow the soil of their homeland with hemp seed.

Because rights reserved by a tribe under a treaty can be asserted by individual members of the tribe, members of the Slim Butte Land Use Association believe they stand on solid, and fertile ground. The project enjoys the backing of the Oglala Lakota Tribal Council which passed an ordinance in 1998 that defines hemp as distinct from marijuana. Tom Ballanco, the LUA attorney who formulated the legal strategy based on the 1868 treaty, states: "This is a secured treaty right. The issue does not concern the federal government."

Joe American Horse, the program manager for the LUA and a former Tribal Council President, says, "The people used to have buffalo for our food, clothing and shelter. Now hemp can do that for us. This is a way we can help our people and our environment."

If the plants are able to grow uninterrupted, harvest would take place in September. The LUA expects to reap a sizable seed harvest for future crops. But the planters know that these seeds also sow controversy and some official response from the government is expected at some point. Regardless, the Oglala Lakota move forward confidently. There's a whole, new meaning in the claim: "They can't defeat us in the field."

Clip from: PINE RIDGE INDIAN RESERVATION NEWS
Wounded Knee, South Dakota
August 9, 2000
By: Dan Skye

MARYLAND AUTHORIZES THE PRODUCTION OF HEMP

Maryland yesterday became the fourth state in the nation to authorize the production of hemp, a hardy fibrous crop with many commercial uses that sponsors hope will offer Maryland farmers a profitable alternative to tobacco.

There's just one drawback: Hemp is also known as marijuana. And under federal drug laws, it is illegal.

But with a growing number of states showing interest in the crop to help bolster their sagging farm economies, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is reviewing its hardline stance against hemp production. And Maryland officials are optimistic that the DEA will permit them to implement their four-year pilot program.

"We're growing rope, not pot," said Charles Puffinberger, an assistant secretary in the Maryland Department of Agriculture. "Maybe if we all gang up on the DEA, they might give in and say, 'Go ahead. Grow whatever you want.'"

Gov. Parris N. Glendening signed a bill into law yesterday to create the Industrial Hemp Pilot Program, authorizing state agriculture officials to design a tightly-regulated program to grow hemp on state-owned land. Interested farmers would face an extensive criminal background check and be licensed by the DEA. State police could search the site at any time.

The law, which takes effect July 1, would also require agriculture officials to closely control the supply of hemp seeds, which are classified as a controlled substance. The seeds must be imported from Canada or abroad with DEA approval, Puffinberger said.

The measure sailed through the recent legislative session with little controversy, drawing eight negative votes in both chambers. But none of the measure's sponsors showed up to be photographed with Glendening (D) during the bill-signing ceremony, a popular event that normally draws crowds of supporters.

Indeed, the only person to join Glendening and legislative leaders in the hemp bill picture was Joyce Nalepka, of Silver Spring, an anti-drug activist who flashed a bumper sticker behind the governor's head that said, "Boycott Pot (and all hemp products)."

"I am furious over the fact that this bill has passed," Nalepka said. "Hemp is marijuana is cannabis sativa is pot. As a mother, it is my belief that marijuana is absolutely our most dangerous drug."

Most experts recognize a difference between the two varieties of the hemp plant, or cannabis sativa. One, marijuana, contains high levels of a psychoactive chemical known as THC. The other, industrial hemp, contains very low levels of THC. It reportedly gives those who try to smoke it little more than a headache.

Still, federal law classifies both types of cannabis as a narcotic. Other than Maryland, only Hawaii, North Dakota and Minnesota have laws allowing hemp production. All were passed last year. Both Minnesota and North Dakota allow farmers statewide to grow hemp.

In Virginia, lawmakers passed a resolution last year urging federal officials to "revise the necessary regulations" to permit experimental hemp production there.

Hawaii is the only state so far to receive DEA approval to plant hemp. The seeds were sown in December, the nation's first legal hemp patch in nearly 50 years.

The DEA imposed serious security measures. Hawaii's hemp is guarded by a 24-hour alarm system and a six-foot-high fence topped with razor wire, Puffinberger said--expensive restrictions that would be difficult to duplicate on Maryland's budget.

DEA spokesperson Rogene Waite said the agency is currently reviewing its security restrictions for growing drugs such as marijuana in light of the states' concerns.

Whatever security measures the state would take, Nalepka believes it wouldn't be enough. "I don't care if the governor himself goes out there with an Uzi and stands at the gate." Kids, she said, will still try to smoke it.

The other big question is whether hemp will be a hit with farmers.

Del. Clarence Davis (D-Baltimore), the measure's chief sponsor, has no doubt that farmers will find hemp "the way to go."

But one of the legislature's few tobacco farmers, Sen. Thomas McLain Middleton (D-Charles), was less than enthusiastic. "I'll stick with my Marlboros, thank you," he said smiling.

Clip from: The Washington Post Company

VERMONT SENATE ADOPTS INDUSTRIAL HEMP RESOLUTION

On May 3, 2000 the Vermont Senate passed JRS098, "Urging U.S. DEA and U.S. Congress to reconsider Federal policies that restrict the cultivation and marketing of industrial hemp and related products."

Vermont now joins ten other states which have signed bills and resolutions in the last twelve months supporting hemp production in the U.S., including Arkansas, Hawaii, Indiana, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Virginia.

INDUSTRIAL HEMP LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

Representative Tom Trail has met with representatives from the Idaho Department of Agriculture and together they are drafting legislation that is based on the North Dakota Industrial Hemp legislation passed last year. At present the Bill is called: The Bast Fiber and Alternative Crops Bill. This follows a resolution by the Idaho Farm Bureau support the crop.

For more information contact:
Mike Schlepp, phone: (208) 689-3593, fax: (208) 689-3141
e-mail: farmermike@nidlink.com

According to the Boston, Globe, The New Hampshire State Legislature Gave Initial Approval on Jan. 5, 2000 to a Bill that Could Legalize a Hemp Industry in the State.

ALOHA HEMP

On December 14,1999, Hawaii made history. It became the first American state since the Second World War to allow the planting of industrial hemp seeds. "This historic event marks the beginning of a change in federal policy, one which I believe will lead to DEA 'farmer friendly' regulations within the next year," said Cynthia Thielen, a State Representative from Hawaii.

It is clear that the U.S. is a step closer to joining the 29 countries that do allow their farmers to cultivate industrial hemp. Canada played a major role in the agricultural education that built the membership in this club. Canadian companies have illuminated the economic feasibility so successfully, in fact, the DEA had to temporarily shut down the importation of Canadian hemp products in August 1999. Dollars do speak the loudest and the exceptional global resurgence of hemp bears witness to the powerful commercial potential of this crop. Trade treaties such as NAFTA permit the importation of millions of dollars worth of industrial hemp material every year, even as American farmers fight to diversify the ailing farm industry with the legalization of industrial hemp.

Thanks to Hawaiian Governor Benjamin J. Cayetano's support and the relentless efforts of Cynthia Thielen, Hawaii became the only US state to obtain DEA permission for growing industrial hemp. The project took root when Alterna, makers of hair care products using hemp seed oil, stepped in with a generous grant. "Alterna feels a responsibility to help support America's farmers and affording them the opportunity to grow industrial hemp for American-made products," said Mike Brady, president of Alterna'sProfessional Hair Care Products.

"We urge other hemp industrialists to be proactive and to offer private funding for hemp test plots in states that will follow Hawaii's precedent - setting lead," said Brady.

The language suits this pioneer act. Live hemp seed, imported from Kenex Ltd. in Canada, are now germinating in Hawaiian soil. It is an important first step to bringing this plant back to its rightful place as one of America's valued agricultural crops. Hawaii State Representative Cynthia Thielen was instrumental in getting the legislation passed as it was her dedication and tenacity for the last three years that guided this licensing.

Article by: Laurie Scott
Clip from: Fiber Ethics Magazine, Winter 2000

LEGISLATION WOULD LEGALIZE HEMP IN NEBRASKA

Hemp could be seen alongside more traditional Nebraska crops in the future if a proposed legislative bill is passed. Members of the Agriculture Committee on Tuesday discussed LB1079, which would allow the cultivation of industrial hemp.

The bill was introduced Jan. 7 by Sen. Ed Schrock of Elm Creek and says legal hemp must contain no more than three-tenths of 1 percent of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical that can make pot smokers high.

"I'm not interested in smoking this product; I'm interested in growing it," Schrock said. Currently, it is legal to buy and sell products made from hemp, but it is illegal to grow it. Industrial hemp is good for the earth because it requires little or no fertilizer or insecticide, he said.

The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not allow the cultivation of hemp, Schrock said. "Either we're right, and everyone else is wrong, or everyone else is right, and we;re wrong," he said. Schrock brought several items made of hemp for the committee members to examine. "If my wife had more time, maybe she'd have made some brownies for the committee," Schrock joked.

Members of the Nebraska State Patrol expressed concern that the legalization of industrial hemp would create problems with the enforcement of drug laws. Currently, a sample suspected of containing marijuana must undergo three tests, said John Dietrich, director of the Nebraska State Patrol crime lab. These tests take about 30 minutes, and none of them tests the amount of THC in the sample. If hemp were made legal, the lab would need to determine whether the sample was marijuana or industrial hemp by testing the amount of THC, Dietrich said. This additional test would take an extra two hours per sample, and the lab would need to hire more chemists and purchase more equipment, Dietrich said.

The benefits of hemp far outweigh the initial setbacks, said Thuvan Ahrens, owner of Solstice, a store that specializes in natural clothing and gifts. Solstice, formerly Hemp Fields, 126 N. 13th St., offers many products that are made from hemp: Clothing, paper, linens and books are just a few, Ahrens said. "Uses for hemp are endless," she said.

Ahrens said she imports many of her hemp products from Canada, Hungary and China. Sometimes it takes a while for the goods to arrive because they get caught up in customs, Ahrens said. "It would be so much easier if hemp could be grown in the United States," she said.

The committee has not voted on the bill and will decide later whether to advance it to the floor for debate or kill it.

Clip from: The Daily Nebraskan, Lincoln, NB, January 3, 2000

ILLINOIS LAWMAKERS WOULD LEGALIZE HEMP GROWING

Some Illinois lawmakers see industrial hemp as a key ingredient in Illinois' agricultural future. The problem is, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency sees it as marijuana.

Once a staple of the American colonies, hemp production was banned in 1937 by the U.S. government because two illegal drugs, marijuana and hashish, are obtained from hemp plants. Despite new interest in hemp's non-hallucinogenic uses, the government's stance hasn't changed.

"There is no such thing as growing hemp. You are growing marijuana," said Terry Parham, acting chief of public affairs for the Drug Enforcement Administration in Washington. "It's a misnomer. You are talking about growing a controlled substance."

Legislators argue that industrial hemp, which can be used to make rope, clothing and paper, contains a negligible level of hallucinogens compared to marijuana. They say it can be grown in controlled settings to prevent misuse of the plant.

"It's time to quit making it a joke; it isn't pot," said Rep. Mary K. O'Brien, D-Coal City. "We're looking at serious issues facing Illinois farmers. If this is a viable crop and grows well in Illinois, we need to get them (DEA) to change the classification. There is a market, if we can produce it."

State Rep. Charles Hartke, D-Effingham, is co-sponsoring a measure in the Illinois House that would urge Congress to acknowledge the difference between marijuana and the agricultural crop known as industrial hemp. "It could save a lot of family farms," Hartke said.

Sen. Evelyn Bowles, D-Edwardsville, who also believes the state needs to pursue alternative crops to keep residents from leaving its farms, is co-sponsoring a similar measure. "We're going to move on this," said Bowles, who has been promoting the merits of industrial hemp for several years. "We're going to try to formulate some plans that will meet the approval of the DEA."

The Illinois Farm Bureau and similar organizations need to make a commitment to take industrial hemp seriously, said O'Brien, who is a member of the House agriculture committee. "I don't really see them pushing this as an issue," she added. However, according to Tom Jett, Farm Bureau manager in St. Clair and Madison counties, the organization changed its policy in December and agreed to aggressively pursue actions that would require the DEA to issue permits to U.S. producers allowing the production of industrial hemp. "The farm economy being what it is -- not very good -- we thought it was time to look at some alternative crops," Jett said.

Joan Messina, assistant director of the state Department of Agriculture, headed a task force to research the issue for the House and Senate agriculture and conservation committees. She told the House committee last week that recommendations include the Legislature's need to differentiate between industrial hemp and marijuana as well as to request a permit from the DEA for Illinois to pursue research at Illinois universities. "Illinois' soil and climate are very good for growing this crop," Messina said.

Last year, 16 states -- including Illinois -- introduced some form of legislation for the study, research or production of industrial hemp. Only Hawaii was granted a DEA permit to specifically study the cultivation of industrial hemp, according to the task force report. That's because the production of hemp, according to the U.S. Controlled Substances Act, is illegal. And Parham, the DEA spokesman, said he doesn't see the law changing anytime soon. "And as a police officer and a father of three, I don't want it to," he said.

The biggest obstacle facing the revitalization of the hemp industry, according to Parham, lies in the plant's leaves that contain THC, which are left over after processing. Hemp is made from the plant's stem. "It's a security issue," he said.

Clip from: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, St. Louis, Missouri; February 2, 2000

For more information, contact: letters@postnet.com
Website: http://www.postnet.com/postnet/stories.nsf/Home

GEORGIA FARMERS CALL FOR INDUSTRIAL HEMP RESEARCH

Last month, delegates at the annual meeting of the state's largest farm group, the 322,500-member Georgia Farm Bureau, approved a resolution calling for the University of Georgia to study (industrial hemp)....Georgia farmers are desperate for new crops because of government production cuts on tobacco, two years of dry weather that wiped out some fields and low prices on conventional commodities.

"We're just saying it ought to be researched to see if it would be feasible for our farmers to grow as an alternative crop," said Cecil Burk, the Farm Bureau's legislative director in Macon. Burk said the Farm Bureau will ask the university to identify hemp varieties that are suited to Georgia's soils and climate and to determine if they could be grown profitably.

Clip from: Elliott Minor, AP, Albany, Georgia, January 3, 2000

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U.S. HAS HEMP INDUSTRY AT END OF ITS ROPE

London, Ontario - When two London-area hemp processing companies opened their doors and began signing contracts with growers two years ago, they expected a few bumps along the road.

They knew there'd be the day-to-day snafus that come with launching any new business. There'd be law enforcement and Canadian government agencies to deal with, such as Health Canada, given the novelty of their raw material and the requirement that the plants they accepted from growers -- as well as the products they shipped -- were virtually free of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. And there'd be the job of proving to skeptics that hemp could again be a versatile, viable product in the international marketplace -- a marketplace it would take time to build.

What they didn't count on was the flip-flopping they've seen by a variety of regulatory and enforcement agencies in the United States over the past six months on what's legal for import into America and what's not. The waffling has produced a big migraine for one of the two firms: Chatham-Kent processor Kenex Ltd., which manufactures hemp fibre and seed products.

Last year, Kenex and another firm, Delaware-based Hempline Inc., contracted for about 1,200 hectares of various varieties of hemp to be grown in southern Ontario -- and there are far more growers willing to plant the crop than what the two firms have acreage for. Agronomists check the growing plants in mid-summer to ensure they don't exceed the 10-parts-per-million threshold for THC set by Health Canada. Testers with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency also do spot checks of fields.

Once the fibrous stalks are harvested, processors such as Kenex and Hempline turn it into a wide range of fibre products, seeds, meal and oils, which eventually make their way into auto parts, textiles, animal bedding, carpets, bird seed and food. In order for the products to enter the U.S., they must meet strict standards for THC content.

Following last summer's ideal growing conditions -- plenty of heat, with periodic rains -- growers took in a bumper crop. Kenex and Hempline cranked up production and began shipping to both domestic and foreign markets.

The THC in the hemp plant is produced in its flowers. If the resin produced by the plant isn?t completely cleaned off its seeds, those seeds can be contaminated with trace amounts of THC. Processors such as Hempline, which deal only with the stalks of certain hemp varieties, have had no problems with shipments, says company president Geof Kime. For Kenex, however, it's been a different story, characterized by a kind of moving target for THC levels.

Late last summer, officials south of the border began to get jumpy. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) stopped an 18,000-kilogram Kenex shipment at the border and ordered the company to recall more than a dozen additional loads, claiming trace THC levels violated the 0.3-per-cent limit spelled out in trade agreements. The DEA also threatened the Pain Court company with penalties of $700,000.

Kenex president Jean Laprise says the "seizure was clearly illegal (under) U.S. law," which spelled out tolerances for THC and the right of American companies to import the material, despite the fact it remains illegal to grow hemp in the U.S.

Kenex was forced to stop shipping until the confusion was sorted out. The seized load, meanwhile, sat in the U.S. awaiting a decision. DEA and U.S. Customs eventually backed down, releasing the shipment and providing a verbal promise not to seize any future shipments of hemp products.

A written agreement Dec. 7 outlined the criteria under which hemp shipments would be allowed into the U.S. Laprise says the deal was "very reasonable, by everyone's standards." Part of the agreement, Laprise says, was that Kenex had to waive whatever right it might have had to sue the U.S. government for its losses. Kenex agreed.

Earlier this month, however, the deal was rescinded by the Office of National Drug Control Policy in Washington. It ordered U.S. Customs to issue a Jan. 5 memorandum which made all hemp products containing any measurable amount of THC subject to immediate seizure and confiscation.

"It's the law that keeps changing from one agency to another &endash; the U.S. Justice Department, U.S. Customs, the DEA," Laprise says.

U.S. importers, meanwhile, are claiming that according to the federal Controlled Substances Act, hemp seeds can be legally brought into the country as long as they are sterilized to prevent growth -- no matter how much residual THC they contain.

At issue for both Canadian exporters and U.S. importers is the fact the industry is being hurt by policy changes which are constantly in a state of flux. More important, though, is the fact American enforcement agencies: the DEA, U.S. Customs and the Office of National Drug Control Policy seem to have rewritten the law on their own three times over the past six months without ever involving the U.S. Congress, which, like Parliament in Canada, makes the laws that agencies then enforce.

Laprise says his company is working with others in the industry to get Agriculture Canada and the Canadian embassy in Washington to iron out the wrinkles. And Canadian agriculture officials say they'll stand by their farmers and processors.

But at the rate American enforcement agencies are rewriting the rules, it's best to move quickly, before operations like Kenex go up in smoke.

Clip from: The London Free Press, London, Ontario, Canada, January 29, 2000

For more information, contact: letters@lfpress.com
Website: http://www.canoe.ca/LondonFreePress/home.html

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