Hemp tea for sale in city

Some motorists may have had cause to look twice recently to confirm that a North Elm Street convenience store has displayed a poster in the window featuring what appears to be a large marijuana leaf.
In fact, the Deni Mart store displays in the front window a promotional poster for Hi T, an “organic hemp iced tea”, which features a marijuana leaf graphic and invites customers to “Sip a Hit”.
Inside the store, an array of coolers in the back contains a wide variety of conventional iced teas. When asked, a young clerk said that the advertised tea is an “energy drink” displayed in a cooler in the front of the store near the cash register. A 12-ounce brightly colored yellow can was sold for $2.95.
The label on the can indicates that water is the biggest ingredient of the product and the second listed ingredient is “hemp seed syrup”. The syrup, which is listed as 4.8 per cent of the contents, reportedly contains cane sugar, extract of hemp seed, water, natural flavors and citric acid as an acidifier.
Other ingredients include cane sugar (28 grams), lemon juice concentrate, .08 per cent extract of green tea and .06 per cent extract of black tea, as well as an antioxidant, L-ascorbic acid.
Conspicuously absent from the label is caffeine, an ingredient frequently found in energy drinks.
When queried, Westfield Police Det. Lt. David Ragazzini said that he had not been aware of the product but said that, since it is offered for sale publicly, it must have FDA approval and be free of controlled substances such as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the active ingredient of marijuana.
An Internet search reveals a website for the product, www.hi-t.me/, which touts the product’s flavor and health benefits.
Despite the clerk’s description of the tea as an energy drink, and the hefty price tag, the website makes no such claim.
Instead, the promotional hyperbole says “the earthy, distinct scent of hemp instantly rises to tickle your nose” and goes on to claim “a treasure trove of flavor; earthy, robust and nutty with a lightly sweet and tart undercurrent.”
The can features a USDA organic seal and the web site claims that the tea is sweetened with “pure organic cane sugar” instead of the high fructose corn syrup used in other beverages.
Although the marketing for the product, which includes a marijuana leaf logo and the “Sip a Hit” slogan, may imply a direct connection to marijuana, the web site warns that hemp seed will “absolutely not” have a psychoactive effect.
It also states “This product will not produce a positive result in blood, urine or hair tests.”
Ragazzini reports that a can of the hemp iced tea was purchased and a field test resulted in a weak positive response for THC. Ragazzini points out, however, that a field test is not conclusive and reports that a sample was sent to the state police lab for conclusive testing.
At a second visit to Deni Mart, a different clerk said that police officers had been to the store in response to the product and had not objected to its sale.
Sgt. Steve Dickinson, the supervisor of the department’s community policing program, said that his officers had been to the store to look into the sale of the tea and said that he too is waiting for conclusive test results. In the meantime, he said, he is working with the city’s health department to consider options available in regards to the product.
The second clerk also said that the product was delivered to the store as an unsolicited promotional product by her distributor, J. Polep Distribution Services, and an employee of the distributor placed the poster in the window.
The J. Polep web site does not list Hi T, either on the product page or on the “new or featured products” page.
A spokesman confirmed that Hi T is a product offered by the company but said that he does not know enough about the product to discuss it nor does he know who at the company would be knowledgeable about it.
The Hi T web site touts the “nutritive qualities of Hempseed” which, it claims, contains “all 20 amino acids, including the 9 essential amino acids (EAAs) our bodies cannot produce.”
Other benefits claimed include “a perfect 3:1 ratio” of Omega-6 and Omega-3 linolenic acids “for cardiovascular health and general strengthening of the immune system”; “a superior vegetarian source of protein considered easily digestible” and “nature’s highest botanical source of essential fatty acid.”
However, simple arithmetic reveals that the 4.8 per cent of the 12-ounce beverage that is “hemp seed syrup” is 17 milliliters, slightly more than half an ounce, and only a part of that small amount is comprised of “extract of hemp seed”. So, the health benefits realized from the tiny amounts of hemp seed in the tea might be limited.
At $2.95 per can, the costs of the promised benefits may be excessive for many consumers.
Still, the company has lofty ideals.
The website states “We seek to provoke inquiry and inspire new and constructive dialogue about the beneficial uses of the hemp plant. We embrace debate because we see it as a necessary step in our mission to educate the consumer and society at large about the hemp plant as a nutritional product and as a sustainable alternative to outmoded and inefficient methods of farming, energy consumption, and industrial production.”

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