ND Farmers Sue DEA To Grow Hemp Crop
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - Two farmers granted the first licenses in the nation to grow industrial hemp filed a federal lawsuit Monday to get final permission from the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The lawsuit asks a federal judge to recognize that hemp is allowed to be grown in North Dakota, said the farmers' attorney, Tim Purdon.
Industrial hemp, a cousin of marijuana, is used to make everything from paper to lotion. But without permission from the DEA, the farmers could be arrested for growing the crop in the U.S.
Hemp contains trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, a banned substance, and it falls under federal anti-drug rules, the DEA says. Hemp proponents say it is safe because it contains only trace amounts of THC, a mind-altering chemical-not enough to produce a high.
"What they say is hemp, we say is marijuana," said Garrison Courtney, a spokesman for the DEA in Washington. "As long as the active ingredient is THC-that's what makes it illegal, and it's still marijuana under the law."
Dave Monson, a state legislator who has pushed for years to grow hemp, said it is grown legally in Canada, just 25 miles to the north of his farm near Osnabrock.
"After 10 years, I've lost patience," Monson said. "I've come to the conclusion that the only way to get any progress is to file this lawsuit and get them off the dime."
The other plaintiff in the lawsuit is Wayne Hauge, who said he planned to seed 100 acres of hemp on his farm. Hauge and Monson were granted the state licenses to grow hemp in February.
State Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson hand-delivered the farmers' applications to grow industrial hemp to the DEA, along with their nonrefundable $2,293 annual federal registration fees. He asked the DEA to give permission by April, in time for planting.
Courtney said the review of the farmers' applications was "still in process" and he would not comment on the specifics of the lawsuit filed against his agency.
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A hotbed of cannabis activism, Washington State is home to many organizations working to bring about rational drug policy. Here are some things to get involved with:
Cannabis Defense Coalition has been very active lately. They focus on courtroom observation and medical marijuana activism.
The November Coalition, based in Colville, is a national reform group and works with prisoners and families.
SpoCannabis is a medical marijuana activist group in Spokane.
King Co. Bar Association Drug Policy Project has done amazing work educating the "suits" about the failure of our prohibition model of drug policy, and the need for a regulatory model of drug policy.
Seattle Hempfest is the third weekend in August on Seattle's waterfront.
Olympia Hempfest is a week after Seattle's big bash.