Ninth Circuit Strikes Down Hemp Foods Ban

San Francisco, CA: The Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday struck down Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) regulations criminalizing the possession and manufacture of edible hemp seed or oil products that contain trace amounts of THC. The Hemp Industries Association (HIA), which represents over 200 hemp companies in North America, had urged the court to invalidate the DEA regulations because the agency lacks legal authority to regulate non-psychoactive hemp, and because minute amounts of THC in hemp products represent no threat to public safety.

The federal appeals court agreed with appellants that the DEA’s ban was improper because it classified non-psychoactive hemp as a Schedule I controlled substance without following the required legislative procedures. “The DEA’s Final Rules purport to regulate foodstuffs containing ‘natural and synthetic THC,'” the court determined. “But [the DEA] cannot regulate naturally-occurring THC not contained or derived from marijuana – i.e., non-psychoactive hemp products – because non-psychoactive hemp is not included in Schedule I. The DEA has no authority to regulate drugs that are not scheduled, and it has not followed procedures required to schedule a substance.”

David Bronner, chair of the HIA Food and Oil Committee praised the ruling. “The three judge panel agreed with our main argument that the DEA’s ‘Final Rule’ ignores Congress’s specific exemption in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) under the definition of marijuana that excludes hemp seed and oil from control along with hemp fiber,” he said. “Based on [this] decision, the court reasonably views trace insignificant amounts of THC in hemp seed in the same way as it sees trace amounts of opiates in poppy seeds.”

For more information, please contact NORML Executive Director Keith Stroup at (202) 483-5500. Full text of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling is available online at: