Hemp Foods Are Drug-Test Compatible


While food made from hemp is one of the fastest-growing segments of the industry, a conflict with drug testing practices had threatened to sink the fledgling businesses. Hemp foods are made from hempseed, one of the most nutritious seeds on earth. Second only to soybean in high-quality protein, it is also the best plant source of Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs, or the “good” fat), and is high in many vitamins and minerals. Hempseed can be used in virtually any recipe or commercial food that uses soybeans, and the 80% EFA oil is commonly used as a supplement.

Hempseed is grown and hemp foods are legal almost everywhere in the world except the U.S., where the law lumps hemp into the same category as its botanical cousin, marijuana. This is despite the fact that hemp has been bred to contain less than 0.3% THC and is high in CBD, a cannabinoid considered to be a THC antagonist. Governments as conservative as Canada and France allow hemp production while still banning marijuana.

When hempseed is harvested, however, a small amount of the resin on the plant sticks to the outside of the seed’s shell. That resin (known as an “adherent”) contains extremely minute amounts of THC, the drug component found in marijuana. Although this THC is not enough to produce a “high,” it still can cause a positive drug test for marijuana.

In the short history (since 1993) of the hemp foods industry, a few companies made foods from whole hempseed that was not properly cleaned. This allowed the sticky resin on the outside of the shell to get into the food, which when eaten caused some people to test positive for marijuana in a urine drug test. The dilemma was that many innocent consumers of hemp foods could have their freedom or livelihood threatened just by eating these foods in normal amounts.

Recently a Santa Rosa, Calif., firm called HempNut Inc. developed a technological breakthrough that results in a form of hempseed which is not only below detectable limits for THC (virtually zero) , it is also 40% more nutritious than whole hempseed, far more palatable, and microbiologically cleaner. Called HempNut, this new product is simply high-quality de-hulled hempseed — hempseed with the shell removed. The adherents are thereby removed and discarded with the shell. To confirm this, HempNut Inc. tested a large sample — 60 times larger than usual — for THC content. Results showed that THC was below detectable limits.

Finally, food processors now have the ability to use de-hulled hempseed to make foods which will not produce positives in drug testing. The hemp food industry is expected to include this de-hulling process as part of their Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), as promulgated by the Hemp Food Association. Those GMP require that finished foods contain less than 10 parts-per-million, which is the Canadian standard for hempseed foods. This is a very easy standard to achieve, and even exceed, simply by using HempNut· or other properly de-hulled hempseed.

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