Canadian Embassy Demands Hempseed Release

501 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20001

October 8, 1999

Mr. Donnie Marshall
Acting Administrator, U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency
12060 Lincoln Place-West
700 Army Navy Drive, Arlington, VA 22202

Dear Mr. Marshall,

I am writing in regards to a seizure and forfeiture of a shipment of hemp seed from Canada on August 9, 1999 in Detroit, Michigan. This seizure, I understand, was based on a decision by officials of the Drug Enforcement Agency that the importation of hemp seed is contrary to the provisions of the Controlled Substances Act.

The Canadian shipper, Kenex Ltd., is a well-established agricultural company in Canada engaged in the manufacture of hemp and hemp products. On August 9th, DEA and U.S. Customs officials seized a shipment of Kenexís products, however no formal, written notice has been issued to the company by either agency.

As Canadian authorities understand current legislative and regulatory provisions, the sterilized seeds which are incapable of germination are explicitly exempted from the Controlled Substance Actís definition of marihuana. Similarly, DEAís own current definition of the active ingredient tetrahydrocannabinols (THC) is limited to synthetic forms of THC, not to organically occurring THC such as those found in Kenex products.

Kenexís cargo of August 9th, valued at approximately $25,000 has been forfeited, the company is faced with a number of $500,000, its officers threatened with U.S. criminal charges and their U.S. customers have been issued with summons to produce all records of their commercial transactions with Kenex. Of particular concern is that all of this has taken place without any formal or written notice issued to them by either DEA or U.S. Customs officials. 

Canada considers this seizure action to be contrary to U.S. NAFTA and WTO obligations. I am asking that you review this entire incident at the earliest opportunity. This company has acted in good faith and should expect to be afforded due process. Canadian authorities are requesting that the shipment how sitting in the bonded warehouse in Detroit be ordered released and redelivery notice should be rescinded.

Yours sincerely,
Douglas G. Waddel
Minister (Economic) and Deputy Head of Mission

c.c. Raymond Kelly, Commissioner
U.S. Customs Service