Home Page of the DPNA Website Learn about the Drug Prevention Network of the Americas, its history, principles, members, supporters, and board Looking for information about drug prevention?  Check out our web page links, books, presentations, position papers, and brochures Want to connect with national, regional or international drug prevention sites?  Visit our extensive Links section. Keep up with the latest drug prevention news and events. Ready to become a part of the Drug Prevention Network of the Americas?  Sign up on line.

WWW DPNA News and Updates
Drug Research
Drug Effects
Drug Information
Drug Trends
Best Practices
Drug Legalization
Drug Policy
Books and Guides
Funding Sources


hree  major reasons to oppose legalizing the growing of Cannabis sativa hemp

National Alliance for Health and Safety
P.O. Box 330664, Atlantic Beach, FL 32233
904-992-4465 ph/fx, Email: dems8692@aol.com
June 13, 2006 

There are at least three  (3) major reasons to oppose legalizing the growing of Cannabis sativa hemp:  
1.    The hemp movement has links to the drug legalization movement.
2.    Hemp is economically questionable and overrated.
3.    Hemp food contains THC, the toxic, fat-soluble drug, causing food safety to be an issue.
Hemp is illegal by federal law. One of the drug movement's stated goals and strategies to legalize marijuana is to legalize hemp state by state while putting pressure on the federal government.  Not everyone who endorses hemp is connected to the drug legalization movement.  Many, particularly farmers and legislators, are innocently and inadvertently drawn into promoting the drug legalization agenda.
Pro-drug advocates (Jack Herer and Chris Conrad) started the hemp movement in the late 80s with the national and international distribution of Herer’s book, “The Emperor Wears No Clothes.”  In the March 1990 HIGH TIMES magazine, a militantly pro-drug magazine, hemp/marijuana advocates announced, “The way to get marijuana legalized is to sell marijuana legally.  When you can buy it (hemp) at your neighborhood shopping mall, IT'S LEGAL!”
Hemp was promoted at NORML conferences and in pro-drug publications. In 1994, High Times magazine (5/94) said that it had been instrumental in getting the hemp movement off the ground, and added, “Now it's time for us to step back and let the movement run itself.”  And run it has.  
State legislatures being asked to legalize hemp are often unaware of the hidden agenda.  For example, John Howell, former hemp editor of HIGH TIMES, and also former editor of HEMP TIMES, (both owned by the same corporation, called, ironically, THC) went around the country speaking for the hemp industry, promoting hemp to state legislators and legislatures.  In 2000, Howell promoted hemp as a hemp panelist at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). There is no evidence that Howell revealed his ties to HIGH TIMES and the pro-drug movement
Industrial Cannabis hemp is economically questionable and overrated.  The USDA conducted a study of hemp and published their findings in a report dated January, 2000.  The report concluded that:  “Industrial hemp will never have anything but a ‘small thin market in the United States.’” All of the fiber, yarn, fabric, and seed that the US currently imports could be grown on less than 5000 acres of land. The average size of US farms is 400 to 500 acres.  (The US has almost 1 BILLION acres of farmland.) www.ers.usda.gov/publications/ages001E/
The 5 states (ND, CA, WV, MA, WI) most actively seeking to legalize Cannabis hemp for farmers have a combined farmland acreage of 87,000,000 MILLION acres. www.nass.usda.gov, http://www.nass.usda.gov:8080/Census/Pull_Data_Census

Worldwide hemp acreage was 214,768 acres in 2005.   Although industrial hemp production has remained legal throughout most of the world, hemp is not a big commodity. http://faostat.fao.org/faostat/form?collection=Production.Crops.Primary&Domain=Production&servlet=1
In Europe, where small amounts (39,000 acres in 2005 – down from 100,000 acres in 1998) of hemp are grown, subsidies are necessary for hemp to be profitable to farmers.  
In Canada, farmers planted 24,000 acres of hemp in 2005, mainly related to the grain for the food, nutraceuticals, and cosmetics markets.  In truth, the market has expanded somewhat in Canada since the DEA hemp food ban was struck down, but a market based on 24,000 acres is still quite small.  Canada has almost no hemp fiber infrastructure, complicating transportation. In order to prevent transportation costs from eating up profits, a hemp fiber farmer should be within 50-100 miles of a processing plant.
Manitoba Agriculture reported (2006), “The world hemp fibre market continues to be dominated by many of the low cost producers. China, South Korea, and the Former Soviet Union produce about 70% of the world supply. China alone produces about three-fourths of the world supply of hemp fibre. The hemp industry is subsidized in the European Union, but production there remains negligible." http://www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/crops/hemp/bko02s00.html
Greg Herriot, who has been developing markets for hemp oil and food since 1996, is considered a leader in producing and selling hemp products.  When he was interviewed by mainstream Canadian farm publication, Western Producer, 8/99, he stated:  “Many hemp products require only a small volume of the crop, he explained. For example, 80 acres will produce enough hemp for one million bars of soap made with the highest-possible content of hemp oil.  I haven't done the math, but I think you could cleanse the world for several years" with soap made from the 18,000 acres of hemp planted in 1999 for the now defunct company, Consolidated Growers.  Canadian farmers lost $6 million in 1999 relying on false promises made by Consolidated Growers.   www.producer.com
Perhaps Hayo M. G. van der Werf, Ph.D., research scientist, French National Institute of Agronomic research (INRA), and former editor of the Official Journal of the International Hemp Association, sums it up best: “The plant is cited to have a wide range of advantages…. However, many claims are made regarding the superior light use efficiency of the crop, the crop's ability to produce huge amounts of biomass on poor soil, unsurpassed competitiveness and its unparalleled cellulose production. Dr. Hayo van der Werf states that many of these claims are inaccurate; some of the overestimation of hemp's benefits may be due to the emotional commitment many individuals have in making this a viable crop. (Emphasis added) http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/crop761

3.    FOOD SAFETY ISSUE:  THC in the food supply
NO state or country in the world has scientifically established the safety of food products made from hemp.
Many characterize the proposed DEA hemp food ban as unreasonable and as a “drug war” issue.  It is, in fact, a food safety issue.  Hemp food products have NOT been established as safe.
Even in small amounts, hemp's toxic, fat-soluble chemicals (cannabinoids -- found only in Cannabis hemp/marijuana) can be harmful.  THC, one of over 60 cannabinoids, is the chemical that causes intoxication.
Hemp activists downplay the effects of small amounts of fat-soluble THC in Cannabis hemp, comparing it to the water-soluble traces of opiates in poppy seeds.  THC accumulates in the body, whereas opiates do not.  Frequent ingestion of numerous hemp foods could result in a buildup of THC, causing chronic, low-level intoxication.  (THC is a Schedule I drug, whereas opiates are not.)
In the US, hemp is not, and never has been, “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS), nor scientifically determined to be safe for human consumption.  Nevertheless, hemp is now on the market and being sold to the public (children included) as a food additive, even though the FDA has never given pre-market approval as required by law.  
Hemp use could compromise drug testing.  Unlike the military and many law enforcement units that banned hemp food product use, what recourse would private industry have to counter claims of contamination of drug tests by hemp food ingestion?  Could they prohibit employees from eating hemp food products, or from using hemp-containing products?
Health Canada, Canada's national health department, stated in a 1999 Risk Assessment draft:  “New food products made from Cannabis hemp (with less than 0.3% THC) pose an unacceptable risk to the health of consumers. Those most at risk are children exposed in the womb or through breast milk, or teenagers whose reproductive systems are developing.”  Health Canada is presently updating their report as well as conducting a survey to determine if there is any acceptable level of exposure.
The European Union does NOT subsidize hemp seed (grain) grown for food, stating in their regulations that any inclusion of hemp products in food should not be encouraged.  “The health effects of these products have not been adequately researched.  (...) the uses to which it [hemp cultivation] is put must NOT include human nutrition.”  [Emphasis added]  
The United Nations International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) called the promotion of products made from the cannabis hemp plant misleading, saying, “The promotion of many products made from hemp (cannabis plant) is designed to further enhance the image of cannabis being a useful product. … The use of hemp in foodstuffs and beverages.… presents the image of cannabis as an innocuous, edible or even nutritious substance.  In many instances, it is done for tactical reasons, to legitimize the commercial use of hemp as part of a campaign to legalize cannabis.”
Before promoting hemp farming and products, hemp advocates must develop scientific proof that hemp is safe to use in food and cosmetic products; lives up to nutritional and other claims; and is a viable cash crop.  To legalize the production of hemp without this research information would expose Americans to unknown health risks, jeopardize public health and safety, and jeopardize American farmers.
One of the major uses for hemp would be seed (grain) for food.  
On at least three levels, growing seed for food would be counterproductive.  

a.        It would cause enormous problems for law enforcement.  Hemp, particularly hemp grown for seed, is indistinguishable visually from high THC content marijuana grown for smoking.  
b.       Hemp food products have NOT been established as safe. No State should embrace an industry that could cause enormous health problems for US citizens.
c.       Drug testing for safety sensitive (transportation -- trucking, airlines, buses) and other industries such as would be put in jeopardy.

Jeanette McDougal grew up on a farm, is Chair of the Hemp Committee of Drug Watch, International; Director, National Alliance of Health and Safety (NAHAS); is a voting member of Florida Farm Bureau; was a former officer on the Board of Ramsey/Washington County Farm Bureau, Minnesota; was a voting member of Minnesota Farm Bureau; has studied and monitored the industrial hemp issue and movement since 1993; and was a drug-abuse prevention teacher, (ret).