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The Hemp Report

An online trade journal covering the North America hemp industry: agriculture, processing, marketing, research, business and regulatory news, and updates. Strong focus on hemp farming and developments in Canada.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Hemp Foods & Drug Testing 

A Convenient Red Herring?

Mahmoud ElSohly
Mahmoud ElSohly

     I read the The Good 5 Cent Cigar story Forensics expert explains marijuana testing myths and started working on a post, but the news of the Don Bolles arrest got in the way of my finishing my research, plus I had other work that I needed to do.

     Anyway, Dr. Mahmoud A. ElSohly of The University of Mississippi's School of Pharmacy gave a talk the University of Rhode Island Forensic Science Seminar on Friday, April 6th. In the talk Dr. ElSohly referred to his latest research and explained why some defenses for positive marijuana tests don't hold up in court.

ElSohly said another excuse that wouldn't hold up in court would be the "hemp seed" defense. Hemp seed and oil contain small amounts of THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, which are responsible for the psychometer effects of marijuana.

According to ElSohly's research, hemp seed and oil can be found in 120 different products on the market today. Because the amount of THC is significantly less, however, ElSohly said students that using hemp products as an excuse for a positive drug test would be disappointed in a police officer or an employer's reaction. Like passive inhalation, there would not be enough THC in a sample after ingesting hemp to meet the guidelines for "testing positive."

     If anyone would know this it would be Dr. ElSohly, who is also president and lab director of ElSohly Laboratories, Inc.

     ONDCP Director Barry McCaffrey was quoted as saying of hemp foods in 2000 that "such applications for human consumption are confounding our Federal drug control testing program." Which is interesting since his office was not so sure about this in a 1996 press release (PDF file 24K).

     While some Swiss hemp oil produced in the early 1990's may have had relatively high levels of trace THC, the passage of rules there in 1996 ended the problem. Canada limits trace THC to 10 µg/g and the TestPledge limits are 5.0 parts per million (ppm) for hemp oil and 1.5 parts per million (ppm) for hemp nut (shelled hemp seed). By the way, ppm = parts per million = µg/g.

     The U.S. government's answer for trace opiates causing false positives after consuming poppy seeds was to raise the opiate cutoff from 300 ng/mL to 2,000 ng/mL on December 1, 1998. Their answer to the alleged same problem in hemp foods was to try and ban them. Fortunately the hemp industry did not let that happen and hemp foods remained legal to import, buy, and consume in the United States.

     According to Vote Hemp: "If the only source of THC in your body is from hemp foods that are produced from Canadian grown hemp seeds and eaten in reasonable quantities, it is virtually impossible to fail a drug test by eating hemp foods."

     So, buy your hemp foods from TestPledge Companies and you should be OK. Now, who's going to tell the Air Force to rescind their ban, which was based on politics not science?

posted by Tom  # 3:06 PM
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