Hemp Food Association
August 17, 2023
Dear Honorable Representatives and Senators—
The Hemp Food Association is the only trade group dedicated to food made from the Hempseed (grain) and has been since 1998. I am the founder and Director and have been active in commercial Hemp product importation and marketing even longer, since 1994.
Long before most heard of CBD, certain Hemp products sold for several millions of dollars annually in the U.S., and have for years. Foods containing Hemp grain have long been in almost every supermarket, sometimes dozens of products.
Consumer and industrial food made from the proteinaceous Hempseed is the one segment with the most companies, consumers, retailers, sales, and acres already. It was accepted as GRAS by FDA in 2018. Sold worldwide, it has the most potential consumers globally. It is 100% legal to regulators everywhere. It is such an important segment that USDA tracks retail ads, prices, and imports of them.
Even before Canada legalized Hemp in 1998, foods from Hempseed were in national distribution in the U.S. and Canada, appearing on national TV not as a joke but as legitimate new commercial foods. I made a Hemp potato salad on CBS-TV wearing all Hemp clothes. National magazines like Rolling Stone, Details, and New York Times Sunday had positive stories, as did thousands of newspapers and hundreds of radio stations.
One Hemp burger had a legal health claim for “reduces risk of heart disease.” Another had a legal Structure-function claim for organic Hemp corn chips. All this literally in the last century. That became 90% of Canadian Hemp and our first billion-dollar segment.
As one of the Hemp entrepreneurs from the last century still living, please know that the current state of Hemp is NOT AT ALL what was envisioned all these decades. We saw fields of waving Hemp grain and fire-proof houses and clothes from the stalk, not disposable vape pens filled with psychoactive cannabinoids ostensibly from Hemp sold in gas stations across the land.
Frankly, in 2018 I had no clue this would happen, and neither did Congress. It was the nexus of new laws and newer chemistry. Understand that it is just an opportunistic workaround for a regulatory conundrum, namely Cannabis in the Controlled Substances Act, making it the nation’s least-popular law. One way to address the psychoactive Hemp cannabinoid issue is to turn marijuana regulation over to the states, since forty-seven already have laws contra Cannabis in Schedule I and the CSA.
It’s obvious that a bifurcation of the Hemp industry into grain/fiber and cannabinoids has already occurred, therefore Congress needs to recognize that reality in the next Farm Bill. All aspects of Hemp will continue to be hurt until then, USDA appears reluctant to throw its full weight behind Hemp until it knows it will be just a grain/fiber crop, and not a trichome crop feeding the gray market.
Congress could go a long way to assist by approving the recommendations of Hemp Exemption exempting certified grain/fiber farmers from onerous and unnecessary regulations, as well as “THC-free” labeling for compliant foods made from the Hempseed.
Please keep Hemp true to what we’ve labored all these decades for, namely grain and fiber, and not let it continue to be hijacked by this emergent segment, a regulatory anomaly.
Hemp Food Association