Frequently Asked Questions about Hemp Foods
Boulder Hemp Company, July 1999
What is Hemp?
Hemp is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant that contains no
psychoactive properties and is grown for fiber and seed production. Hemp can be used to
make over 25,000 different products, including textiles, paper, paint, biofuel, particle
board, plastics, cordage, and food.
Hemp fiber and its seed have a history of human use over 10,000
years old, but is currently illegal to cultivate in the U.S., making us the only
industrialized country in the world that does not allow its farmers to grow this
Can you eat hemp seed?
Yes! Hemp grain has been used throughout history as an abundant
and nutritional food source. Hemp grain produces two distinct food products: oil and
flour. The oil is made into salad dressings, soups, butter, and cheese. The flour can be
used as a complement to wheat or corn flour to make breads, pancakes, pizza dough,
cookies, and many other foods.
How do you process the grain?
The hemp grain that we use in our food products is imported from
China and Canada and is sterilized so it will not grow. We press the hemp grain using a
cold expeller press to extract the seed oil, which comprises 30% of the weight of the
seed. After the oil has been removed, a seed "cake" remains. We grind and sift
this cake to produce high-quality hemp flour.
How healthy is hemp grain?
Hemp grain is the most nutritionally complete seed on the planet
for human consumption. Each hemp seed contains 25% protein. This protein is more easily
digestible than the protein in soybeans because it contains a perfect ratio of essential
fatty acids (EFA's). EFA's are important for strengthening your immune system and
protecting you from disease. Fish oil and flax oil are also high in EFA's, but hemp
contains the most perfect ratio of EFA's for human consumption. Hemp grain is also high in
iron and calcium and is an excellent source of dietary fiber (click here to see more information regarding the health benefits of hemp seed).
What does it taste like?
Delicious! Hemp seeds have a nutty flavor. When processed into
flour and mixed with wheat or corn flour, the taste of the seeds is subtle, but provides
hemp foods with a hearty and healthy flavor. Some say it "tastes like freedom."
Why not "de-hull" the hemp seeds?
The most nutritional benefits come from using the whole seed.
Removing the shell, or "de-hulling", hemp seeds has been touted by some food
manufacturers to make the hemp seed less gritty and to reduce the possibility of using
hemp seeds containing over the Canadian limit of 0.1% THC residue. BHC prefers to use the
whole seed to process into flour, thereby maintaining the healthy fiber contained in the
hull. Our grinding process produces a flour so fine as to eliminate any grittiness that
might be present with less rigorous processing. And we preserve all of the dietary fiber,
one of the main benefits of eating hemp food! De-hulling the seeds is an unnecessary and
expensive process. Since we rely on licensed Canadian producers, we guarantee our products
will not exceed the Canadian limit on THC residue and will not cause a positive urinalysis
test for THC.
What are the legal issues involving hempfoods industries?
BHC makes hempfoods from freshly-ground hemp seed flour. The
seed we use is grown from non-drug industrial hemp plants, and steam sterilized, in
Canada. We may legally use sterilized seed. Title 21 (Food and Drugs) of the U.S. Code,
Chapter 13 (Drug Abuse Prevention and Control), Section 802 (16) in its definition of
"marihuana" exempts mature stalks of such plant, fiber provided from such
stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of such plant, any other compound, manufacture,
salt, derivative, mixture or preparation of such mature stalks (except the resin extracted
therefrom), fiber, oil or cake or the sterilized seed of such plant, which is incapable of
germination." Since this definition was adopted in 1937, sterilized hemp seed has
been legal in the U.S.
THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the psychoactive chemical in
Cannabis sativa. THC is found only in the leaves and flowers of medicinal Cannabis, not in
industrial hemp, and not within the seeds themselves. Industrial hemp, as grown in Canada
and Europe, is already non-drug, containing less than 0.3% THC in its leaves and flowers,
far below the psychoactive threshold. Cannabis sold as a drug in the U.S. typically
contains in excess of 4% to 20% THC. If the grain is not well-cleaned, some residue from
the leaves may remain on the grain. The Canadian limit for THC residue on the grain is
under 0.1% THC or 10 micrograms per gram. - a very low amount. All of our grain meets this
Canadian requirement. However, the U.S. does not have any requirements for THC residue.
Under federal law passed in 1937, the grain need only be sterilized to prevent growth in
order to meet the U.S. legal requirements.
Could I ever test positive for THC in an urinalysis test after
eating BHC hempfoods?
No! The seeds grown for hempfoods come from non-drug plants. The
amounts of THC, if any, contained in the residue surrounding the seeds, are so
infinitesimally small that they could not cause a person to test positive on any test for
THC. However, this has not prevented some people from blaming hemp food consumption for
their positive drug tests. The drug testing industry needs to develop standards for
eliminating these bogus claims, much as they developed standards for people who claimed
they tested positive for the presence of opiates caused by their consumption of poppy
seeds. According to Don Wirtshafter of The Ohio Hempery Inc. (http://www.hempery.com), "The issue is similar to poppy seeds affecting urine tests
providing a false positive for heroin consumption. The urine testing industry has dealt
with this issue by requiring a medical examination of any failed employee who claims poppy
seeds as an excuse. Nobody has ever called for a ban on poppy seed imports."
What is going on with the DEA?
On August 9, 1999, U.S. Customs, under orders from the federal
Drug Enforcement Administration, illegally seized a shipment of legal hemp grain coming
into the U.S. from Canada. The grain was owned by Kenex (http://www.kenex.com), Canada's largest hemp producer. The DEA and U.S. Customs also illegally
ordered several U.S. companies to return their seed meal, oil, hempseed nuts, granola
bars, horse bedding and sterilized grain that they had previously received from Kenex.
For almost two months, the DEA and Customs refused to provide
any written statement authorizing their actions. When the story finally became public at
the beginning of October, the DEA released a statement to the press stating that, although
sterilized Cannabis seed has "traditionally" been legal, they are now
considering it to be a controlled substance if it contains any amount of THC. Now, under
pressure from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, U.S. Customs has
issued new guidelines that makes hemp seed illegal to import if it contains any trace
amount of THC.
We cannot stress enough the fact that the DEA's actions were/are
illegal. They are a federal enforcement agency, designed to enforce laws enacted by the
legislative branch. They have no power to re-write the federal definition of marihuana,
only Congress can do that. See http://www.levellers.org/dea for more
information on this issue.
What is the DEA's motivation?
Fear, power, and money drive the DEA to engage a
well-orchestrated attempt to kill the developing hemp industry in the U.S. and Canada.
Canada, which began commercial production of hemp in 1998, is relying on the U.S. market
to consume 95% of its products. The U.S. hemp industry sells over $50 million dollars of
hemp products a year and is growing rapidly.
The U.S. War on Cannabis consumes over $15 billion of U.S.
taxpayer money every year, a large portion of which goes to the DEA. In short, the DEA is
worried about their job security. Even though no one could get high from smoking
industrial hemp leaves, let alone the residue around the seeds, the DEA is determined to
ban hemp products completely in the U.S.
The DEA is playing for keeps. They will not give in unless they
receive an immense amount of pressure from your federal legislators or unless they are
sued in federal court to stop their illegal actions. The Boulder Hemp Company is actively
pursuing both of these avenues. We welcome your assistance.
WHAT YOU CAN DO?
Contact your federal legislators and ask them to stop the DEA
from trying to illegally kill hemp industry. For more information on how to contact
legislators see http://www.levellers.org. Please also forward copies of any letters you send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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