DEA drops resistance to hemp food products

Hemp may be the new soy. Recently, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency quietly ended its attempts to ban hemp oil and sterilized industrial hemp seed in food products. (Yes, these products are taken from the Cannabis plant, but no, they won’t even get your little brother high.) “It’s a victory [for the hemp industry],” says food studies professor Ellen J. Fried, “except for the fact that you can’t grow it in the United States. … But hemp’s there. It’s in Trader Joe’s. It’s in Whole Foods.” That’s right, hemp enthusiasts: When you really, really need a snack (we’re not implying anything), you can reach for a growing variety of hemp food products including energy bars, pretzels, waffles, bread, salad dressing, coffee, and beer. The hemp food industry touts the crop’s low impact on the environment and its nutritive value — it’s a great source of essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, and protein, backers say. But no major food producers have gotten into the game yet, so don’t expect to see Honey Bunches of Hemp cereal any time soon.