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Extract from votehemp.org
June 11, 2010 Update

ND governmental leaders get the brush-off from the U.S. Justice Department

By SUE ROESLER

Farm & Ranch Guide

North Dakota government leaders and producers aren't giving up on growing industrial hemp.


  

Another appeal of a lawsuit decision regarding the right of farmers with state licenses to grow industrial hemp without worrying about the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) arresting them was filed last week.

Two North Dakota farmers, State Rep. David Monson and Wayne Hauge, appealed a 2007 industrial hemp lawsuit decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia Circuit last week.


  

While North Dakota producers can purchase state licenses to grow industrial hemp, the DEA continues to ignore their requests for a federal registration - even after a district court judge called the agency out on it.

In 2007, U.S. District Judge Dan Hovland said he had to dismiss the farmers' lawsuit against the DEA because of federal law that lumped industrial hemp together with marijuana under the controlled substances act.

However, he chided the DEA for not responding to the farmers' and other agencies' requests.

At that time, Hovland said “there is no realistic prospect the plaintiffs (Monson and Hauge) will ever be issued a license by the DEA to grow industrial hemp.”

He called the DEA's action an “unreasonable delay.”

In another example, the court noted that the North Dakota Legislature had ordered North Dakota State University to begin testing industrial hemp cultivars for farmers in the late 1990s. NDSU applied to the DEA for the right to do so in 1999, but never heard back from the agency.

Hovland said the DEA had simply ignored the request.

Interestingly, a short time after the DEA was chided by Hovland, the agency contacted NDSU and said the university could begin cultivating hemp varieties as long as significant security measures were put in place.

The DEA continued to ignore the farmers' request for a federal license, however.

Adam Eidinger of VoteHemp, the organization that is funding the lawsuits, said it has been three years and the DEA continues to ignore the farmers' requests for a federal registration.

“The DEA can't ignore the farmers forever,” Eidinger said. “We want to know one way or another what their decision is so we can move forward with this.”

Eidinger said the new Obama administration has softened the government's stance on medical marijuana even though that drug has nothing whatsoever to do with industrial hemp. While they are both members of the cannabis family, industrial hemp has such a small amount of THC, the psychoactive part of the plant, in it that it is useless to anyone wanting to use it as a drug.

Industrial hemp is simply a crop that can be made into many healthy food products and industrial products that are exceptionally strong, like rope and car door paneling.

The administration has set internal policy allowing states to issue their own laws, and does not want to meddle in each state's business. That would seem to include industrial hemp laws, which North Dakota and several other states have passed for their own farmers.

Eidinger said he hopes the North Dakota Congressional delegation will take up the cause since they are huge supporters of farmers and the farm bill.

There has been growing support among North Dakota leaders over the years asking the federal government to stay out of the issue and allow North Dakota to issue licenses and control industrial hemp farming within its own borders.

In November 2009, four North Dakota governmental leaders sent a letter to the Department of Justice. The four included Gov. John Hoeven, who is now running for the U.S. Senate; State Ag Commissioner Doug Goehring; State Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem; and Rep. David Monson.

The four requested a meeting with officials at the Justice Department so they could further explain their position supporting the state regulating industrial hemp and the DEA's interference.

The letter stated that Monson and Hauge had received state licenses four years in a row to grow industrial hemp, but had never received a federal license from the DEA.

It also stated the farmers were afraid to go ahead and plant industrial hemp, fearing the DEA would charge them with a crime.

Licensed Hemp Farmers Heard by U.S. Court of Appeals Decision in Lawsuit Could Bring Back Hemp Farming in U.S. ST. PAUL, MN � Two North Dakota farmers, who filed a lawsuit in June of 2007 to end the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) ban on commercial hemp farming in the U.S., were heard yesterday, November 12, 2008, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. The oral arguments before the three judge panel centered on the farmer's assertion that because there is no possibility the hemp crop could be diverted into the market for drugs, the Commerce Clause does not allow DEA to regulate industrial hemp farming in North Dakota. If successful, the landmark lawsuit will lead to the first state-regulated commercial cultivation of industrial hemp in over fifty years. The court's decision is not expected until next year. The farmers, North Dakota State Rep. David Monson and seed breeder Wayne Hauge, are appealing a decision by the U.S. District Court of North Dakota on a number of grounds; in particular, the District Court ruled that hemp and marijuana are the same, as DEA has wrongly contended. In fact, scientific evidence clearly shows that not only are oilseed and fiber varieties of Cannabis genetically distinct from drug varieties, but there are absolutely no psychoactive effects gained from eating it. All court documents related to the case can be found online. Representative Monson observed oral arguments made on his behalf by attorneys Joe Sandler and Tim Purdon. In court Mr. Sandler argued, "Given North Dakota's unique regulatory regime, nothing leaves the farmer's property except those parts of the plant Congress has already decided should be exempt from regulation: hemp stalk, fiber seed and oil. The question is whether there is any rational basis for Congressional regulation of the plant itself growing on the farmer's property. The answer is no � because industrial hemp is useless as drug marijuana and there's no danger of diversion, so there's no possible impact on the market for drug marijuana." The government's arguments centered on the idea that the plaintiffs should apply to the DEA for permission to grow hemp and that the court didn't have jurisdiction over the issues raised by the farmers. "The plaintiffs should await the DEA's decision on their application," said Melissa Patterson on behalf of the government. In response, Judge Michael Milloy asked, "Isn't it true the DEA will not rule on the farmer's applications to grow hemp, you've had eleven months?" Ms. Patterson answered, "The DEA has not replied out of respect to the pending proceedings." In response to the jurisdictional objections made by the DEA, Judge Lavenski Smith said, "When there is a legitimate constitutional issue brought before us we can hear the case." Background In 2007 the North Dakota Legislature removed the requirement that state-licensed industrial hemp farmers first obtain DEA permits before growing hemp. The question before the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals will be whether or not federal authorities can prosecute state-licensed farmers who grow non-drug oilseed and fiber hemp pursuant to North Dakota state law. Vote Hemp, the nation's leading industrial hemp advocacy group, and its supporters are providing financial support for the lawsuit. If it is successful, states across the nation will be free to implement their own hemp farming laws without fear of federal interference. # # # Vote Hemp is a national, single-issue, nonprofit organization dedicated to the acceptance of and free market for low-THC industrial hemp and to changes in current law to allow U.S. farmers to once again grow this agricultural crop. More information about hemp legislation and the crop's many uses may be found at www.VoteHemp.com or www.HempIndustries.org. BETA SP or DVD Video News Releases featuring footage of hemp farming in other countries are available upon request by contacting Adam Eidinger at 202-744-2671.