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Dr. Bronner Takes Hemp Fight To White House

David Bronner, the CEO of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, talks to KPBS about his protest.

Bronner's Hemp Protest

Senator Ron Wyden

June 13, 2012: Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) introduced an amendment to the Farm Bill allowing farmers to grow industrial hemp.

David Bronner, the CEO of the Escondido-based Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, locked himself in a metal cage outside the White House this week. He did it to protest U.S. laws that make it illegal to grow hemp, one of the "magic" soap's main ingredients.

Bronner told KPBS that for more than 10 years, his company has been using hemp seed oil in its soaps, and that there is a big difference between hemp and marijuana.

"The way that a Chihuahua and a Saint Bernard can technically inter-breed, but they're different varieties," he said.

Nothing in hemp seed can make you high, he said.

"Most of the rest of the world has moved on, has recognized this has nothing to do with marijuana varieties," he said.

Bronner's company buys its hemp from Canada and hoped growing hemp would soon be legal in the U.S. But under the Obama administration, no moves have been made, Bronner said, which is why he decided to protest.

"He's been blowing us off," Bronner said.

A statement from David Levey, a spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration, said "all marijuana plants contain THC," the psychoactive component of marijuana.

"It is illegal to grow plants that contain THC without a DEA registration," he said.

But last week, Senator Ron Wyden from Oregon introduced an amendment to the Farm Bill to allow farmers to grow industrial hemp.

Bronner said he is facing a charge for possession with intent to sell from his protest in Washington, D.C.

Bronner's packages also show a product with a message: they feature poems, philosophies and the catch phrase "All-One." A documentary has been made about what the company claims is America's top-selling natural brand of soap.

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