|ENVIRONMENT NEWS SERVICE
September 30, 1999
DEA Drug Hawks Swoop Down on Birdseed
DETROIT, Michigan, September 30, 1999 (ENS) - The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has seized a tractor trailer of serilized Canadian hemp seed on its way to a large U.S. company that has been selling hemp birdseed blends legally for years.
Following the August 9 seizure, U.S. Customs and the DEA demanded that Kenex, Canada's largest producer and processor of industrial hemp products, recall previous shipments of other hemp products such as oil, granola bars, horse bedding and animal feed. Kenex is based in Paincourt, Ontario, 60 miles from Detroit.
U.S. Customs is threatening nearly $500,000 in fines against Kenex if the recalled products are not redelivered to Detroit Customs in the next few days. These fines are in addition to the fines and possible criminal charges that may be laid in relation to the bird seed load itself. A 30 day extension request to clarify the situation was denied by U.S. Customs.
The agencies have taken these actions even though all of the products are exempt under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act, and many have been sold in the United States for 60 years. There has never a time when sterilized hemp seed or oil or meal was illegal.
The DEA, after repeated requests, refuses to provide Kenex with any legal basis for the confiscation.
Kenex's president, Jean Laprise says, "Kenex, along with many other U.S. companies are suffering irreparable damage due to the illegal actions taken by the DEA and U.S. Customs. It seems the DEA could be spending the U.S. taxpayer's drug war money in better ways than chasing after bird seed and horse bedding."
Laprise says, "All the proper documentation has been supplied to
Customs in the past in accordance with our custom broker's instructions. Kenex has always acted in good faith and has never
violated any U.S. laws. Our legal counsel has advised us that the DEA and U.S. Customs are acting in clear
violation of U.S. laws as well as NAFTA."
Currently, French and German hempseed products are still entering the United States under the same tariff code without problems.
Kenex is in the process of preparing the paperwork to file a complaint
under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Nutiva's hempseed bar, made with sunflower, hemp, flax and pumpkin
seeds and honey, has just surpassed 100,000 units sales, making it the
top selling hemp food in the U.S. John Roulac, president and founder of
Nutiva, states, "People love the nutty, chewy taste of our hempseed bars. Hempseed
is rich in protein, vitamin E and the heart healthy Omega 3 are an added bonus."
The DEA is required by law to report to Congress each year a list of
drug producing nations and Canada is not on the list. "The DEA is either lying to Congress or admitting industrial hemp is not a
drug crop," Roulac says.
The states of Minnesota, North Dakota and Hawaii have all approved the
cultivation of industrial hemp, and the legislators in Illinois, Montana, Virginia and California have approved resolutions
endorsing the recommercialization and growing of industrial hemp.