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The hemp industry won a major�and perhaps complete�victory in its battle with the Bush administration when the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently rejected the federal government’s proposed ban on industrial hemp in foods. Unlike its cannabis cousin, marijuana, industrial hemp contains only trace amounts of THC, marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient. Despite industry arguments that hemp is a beneficial product in countless foods from pretzels to pasta, that George Washington grew it and that the federal government even encouraged its use in its World War II film, Hemp for Victory, the Bush administration proposed a ban on its use in foods in 2001. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) proposed an “Interpretive Rule” stating that “any product that contains any amount of THC is a Schedule I controlled substance” under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA). The Hemp Industries Association (HIA) and other industry groups sued, challenging the administration’s attempted classification, which would have outlawed the sale or possession of their products. ‘No authority’ Siding with the hemp industry, the 9th Circuit said, “The DEA has no authority to regulate drugs that are not scheduled, and it has not followed procedures required to schedule a substance. The DEA’s definition of ‘THC’ contravenes the unambiguously expressed intent of Congress in the CSA and cannot be upheld.” Hemp Industries Ass’n v. DEA, No. 0371366. Senior DEA attorney Douglas Dormont, who argued the case, said, “Believe me. I have opinions I would love to convey,” but declined to do so, citing DOJ policy. When asked whether the government would seek certiorari or an en banc review, Justice Department spokesman Charles Miller said the decision was still under review. HIA attorney Joseph Sandler of Washington’s Sandler, Reiff & Young, who also serves as general counsel of the Democratic National Committee, said that he would be surprised if the government appealed. “We’re pleased that this exercise�and the uncertainty for our clients�appear to be at an end,” Sandler said, noting that Judge Alex Kozinski, who dissented in an earlier opinion in the case, joined the unanimous panel.

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