Do hemp seeds contain enough THC to cause pot-like effects; Experts weigh in

AURORA, Colo. — Forty percent of Americans buy organic foods, and one of the most popular items on their organic grocery lists are hemp seeds. But controversy over whether hemp seeds can have the same effect as marijuana has some worried.

Plenty of hemp products are available at local health food stores — seeds can be sprinkled on a favorite meal and consumers can even purchase hemp shakes.

Hemp’s popularity has grown because it’s a great diet supplement for people allergic to soy, and contains about 11 grams of protein in a single tablespoon.

“It is a complete protein that contains all of the essential amino acids in the ratio that the human body requires,” said Lani Banner of  The Vitamin Cottage.

But some worry hemp contains THC, which is found in marijuana — hemp and marijuana are in the same family of plants.

The military has banned soldiers from eating  products with hemp seeds because there were concerns the seeds might skew a soldier’s drug test.

FOX31 Denver decided to have the seeds tested at Forensic Laboratories in Aurora.

The subject was a mother of three, who asked to remain anonymous.

She said she enjoys the health benefits of hemp, but wants to make sure she’s not making a mistake.

“For my children, I want to set an example for them that what you put in your body is important, and drugs are not the way to go,” she said.

After eating a salad with three times the amount of hemp seeds usually found in packaged yogurt, the subject submitted a urine sample to the lab to begin the testing process, which was repeated twice.  She also used a good amount of hemp lotion.

Dr. Laura Bechtel revealed to FOX31 Denver that the results were negative for THC.

Bechtel said the lab does drug testing for employers on a routine basis and does not find THC traces in people who eat hemp as a health food and do not use marijuana.

“People have to realize it’s going to have to take a large amount of seeds,  a bag of seeds or more, to test positive,” said Bechtel.

Experts said if you want to have confidence in what you’re buying, check the label every time. Since hemp seeds that are hulled lose their THC, they recommended purchasing seeds that are produced in Canada, where exported hemp products fall under tough standards.

“You can look at the back of the label for the symbol for the test pledge,” said Banner. “This is where the companies pledge that they are testing all of their hemp seed products to ensure that is has undetectable levels of THC.”

She added that the symbol looks like a small circle or tear drop shape that reads “test pledge.”

For more information about the benefits of hemp products, visit LiveStrong.com.