Victory for the Hemp Industries Association (HIA) that pulled in over €7.8 million in food product sales last year came last week when the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit appeals court judged that the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) does not have authority to bar the sale or possession of all hemp-based products.
The DEA may regulate marijuana and synthetic forms of the substance that gives the plant its narcotic powers but cannot stop the sale or possession of products made from hemp plants with small amounts of the substance that makes marijuana, an illegal drug.
Hemp seed oil is a rich source of polyunsaturated fat, including the essential fatty acids - Omega 3 and 6 - and Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA), which make it an excellent natural emollient and moisturiser.
Body care products containing hemp seed oil are claimed to reduce skin discomfort and increase the skin's natural moisture retention capacity. Products containing hemp seed oil are also thought to slow down the effects of skin aging and bring relief to dry scalp or hair damaged by colouring and chemical perms.
Ending a two-year lawsuit, the decision allows the hemp industry to build on market share in the natural products arena.
"We've experienced double-digit growth in the last two years and I believe we will continue to see the same pace in growth," said Adam Eidinger at the HIA.
Two years ago a SPINS tracking survey saw hemp food products taking €4 million in sales. The industry is really underdeveloped with strong potential, added Eidinger.
According to Eidinger, the DEA could challenge the appeals court decision by taking the issue further to the Supreme court. "But this is unlikely," he said. "I don't think the Superme court [that has the choice to accept or not] would take the case," added Eidinger, claiming that the initial decision by the DEA to challenge the hemp industry has actually helped sales.
On March 21 last year the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) issued a final rule regarding the legality of hemp in cosmetics and foods. The new rule sought to ban the sale of all hemp food products and prohibit the importation of hemp oil for cosmetic manufacture. But the appeals decision last week overturns the attempted ban.
Leading hemp manufacturers in the US include Nature's Past, Dr Bronner and French Meadow Bakery.