Dude, I'm So Waffled!
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Hemp is the Bad Seed, says the Drug Enforcement Agency, and not allowable for consumption, be it nut, leaf or resin.
They can proclaim it all they want, but let's just say many Americans aren't merely inhaling. When it comes to foods made from cannabis, whose nutritional value is said to trump even the hallowed soybean, advocates of the green plant want to have their hemp cakes and eat them, too.
The DEA has been trying since 2001 to make hemp foods illegal, because they may contain trace amounts of THC (the ingredient in marijuana that gets you high). Still, hemp is not the same thing as marijuana. It's the roots, stalks and stems of the cannabis plant and doesn't get you high, as opposed to the flowers, buds and leaves, which do. So, even if there are trace amounts of it in your veggie burger, don't expect to develop a sudden craving to coordinate Dark Side of the Moon with The Wizard of Oz. That's not what the DEA's concerned with, anyway. Its worry is that people are blaming hemp foods for testing positive for marijuana. Hemp advocates disagree, and so far the issue has been tied up in the courts. The most recent ruling came last week, when the 9th Circuit Court halted the DEA's enforcement, saving from becoming contraband -- for the moment, at least -- scores of hemp veggie burgers, hemp butter, hemp bread, hemp salad dressing, hemp chips, hemp bars, hemp beer and more.
Which brings us to the waffles sitting in front of me.
This day, April 21, has been declared "Hempfest" by hemp advocates, to protest the DEA's position. But in my house, it's more like "Hempfeast." Over the next few hours, I'm going to eat as much hemp food as I'm hungry for, and then see if I test positive on a drug test, as the government claims I may.
I've hit Wild Oats and purchased the few edible hemp products I could find: waffles, granola--I threw in a bar of "Super Clean"-scented hemp soap in case things got messy. Then I headed over to the drug store for an at-home marijuana pee-cup test ($15.99).
Now I eat.
I open the waffle box. As I place them in the oven, I note that they look healthier than Eggo Waffles, which was my last waffle encounter, about three years ago. I'm thankful that the dignified green box these waffles came in isn't ordering me to "Leggo" of anything. It's actually educational. "Why Hemp?" it reads. "Firstly, there is no THC present in the hemp seeds LifeStream uses. Secondly, Hemp seeds are very nutritious, with the richest source of essential fatty acids in the entire plant kingdom. Thirdly, this amazing seed contains a near-perfect composition of essential fatty acids -- linoleic (omega 6) and alpha linolenice acid (omega 3) -- all from plant-based sources." And best of all, it tells me, there's lots of protein, amino acids and other healthy stuff. But if the DEA has its way, these waffles are outlaws. Better slather on the butter and syrup and eat 'em while they're still legal.
My fork crunches into the waffled goodness, and down oozes all the drippy, fatty stuff I poured on top. I slide my fork under, feeling it momentarily stick to the plate. Then, into the mouth: Tastes like a waffle. A good waffle, but a waffle. Nothing magical or intoxicating here.
As I chew, I muse over the scores of substances that the government doesn't bother to outlaw or make a statement about. Poppy seeds. They can make you test positive for heroin use, but you don't see narcs casing Einstein's, wrapping crime-scene tape around the cases of poppy-seed bagels. And what about banana skins -- can't you smoke those and get a little "Mellow Yellow"? Nutmeg, if eaten in large - enough quantities, is supposed to be the poor man's marijuana. Mushrooms can be hallucinogenic; sniffing glue makes you nice and woozy; licking certain toads can get you high. All those spring to mind within six bites of waffle, and I don't even begin to explore all of the other evils of the world. But at least we're cracking down on this hemp plant, right? This all-purpose plant is good for making paper, unfashionable clothing, jewelry, rope, food, fuel and more, meaning it could wreak havoc by bringing unwarranted success to small, organic farms if we don't exterminate it at its roots. It's the anti-seed, a weed.
But it sure does taste good.
I take my Hemp Granola (by far the best granola I've ever tasted) to a friend's house, where I drink a couple of Heinekins and explain the little project. My friend makes a point. "What, the government can't make a test that works, so they ban a whole line of food?" she demands. Cigarettes, alcohol, hell, even Botox treatments -- which, I remind you, are injections of botulism -- are government-approved. But they want to draw the line at this little nutty morsel. Doesn't make sense.
Either she's making a great point or that delicious hemp granola has gone to my head.
It's now seven hours since my waffles, and I'm hungry. I need a refill. More fork-crunching, syrup-oozing, thoughtful chewing -- and now it's time to test.
The directions tell me to pee in a cup, submerge a stick and wait 10 minutes to see if I get one pink line, meaning positive, or two, meaning it's negative. I follow the directions and wait. The "result ready" dot starts turning pink, which I take as a good sign -- something's working. I should be getting some lines any minute now.
Yup, any minute now I'll see if I'm positive or negative.
Any second now.
The "results ready" dot is totally pink, and now the "test expired" dot is starting to color, meaning it's been 15 minutes. That's five minutes longer than it's supposed to take. Not a good sign.
Now the "test expired" dot is completely filled in. Still no results. I glance at the clock. It's approaching midnight. I find another test at Walgreen's and try again.
I know the routine. Fill the cup, submerge the stick and wait. The important color hole immediately starts to color. That's a good sign -- better than the previous test. I see one line -- that means positive. Will I get another? One line, one line, one line ... there! Another faint line appears. I passed. It's negative.
How did that happen? After four hemp waffles and two cups of hemp granola, I'm willing to wager I've consumed more soon-to-be-contraband hemp oil than even your average patchouli-loving hippie does in a day, and still tested negative. Sure, it's a small sample size, but it undercuts the government's argument, at least in my mind. Not that that's ever stopped them before.
For the time being, the hemperance movement is stalled, so stock up while you can. Things like "Super Clean" hemp soap won't be around forever. I'm planning to go lather up (and inhale!) right now, just to do my part. I might even put on Dark Side of the Moon.