It’s not over yet for licensed North Dakota hemp farmers, State Representative David Monson and Wayne Hauge. If you’ll remember my series of stories on these two gentlemen, they have been licensed by the State of North Dakota to grow industrial hemp on their farms.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says if they do, they’re in violation of drug laws because hemp is considered marijuana. Period.
So the farmers went to Federal Court in Bismarck, N.D. last June and filed a lawsuit to end the DEA’s ban on industrial hemp farming in the United States. On November 29th, U.S. Federal Judge Daniel Hovland dismissed their lawsuit, saying the question should be settled by Congress. The judge also ruled that hemp and marijuana are the “same”, the argument raised by the DEA.
Not satisfied with that ruling, the farmers have appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, claiming the court failed to consider the Commerce Clause argument raised by the plaintiffs, which states Congress cannot interfere with North Dakota’s state-regulated hemp program.
According to the release by Vote Hemp, scientific evidence makes it clear that the hemp plant to be grown in North Dakota has absolutely no recreational drug effect. Farmers want to harvest the oil and fiber from industrial hemp plants for commercial sale in the U.S..
In another related incident, the case brought by the farmers prompted the DEA to respond to an eight year old request from North Dakota State University to grow industrial hemp for research purposes. The DEA has sent the school a proposal, which is being reviewed at this time.
Should NDSU reach an agreement with the DEA, university officials say it could cost $50,000 to install 10-foot high fences around the test area, along with high powered lighting, as required by the DEA. If agreement is reached, it will allow for industrial research and development in North Dakota. That, according to school officials, would lead to developing varieties of industrial hemp best suited for North Dakota’s climate.
Eric Steenstra, President of Vote Hemp, is quoted as saying,
“We feel that the lower court’s decision not only overlooks Congress’s original legislative intent, but also fails to stand up for fundamental states’ rights against overreaching federal regulation. Canada grows over 30,000 acres of industrial hemp annually without any law enforcment problems. In our federalist society, it is not the burden of North Dakota’s citizens to ask Congress in Washington, D.C. to clear up its contradictory and confusing regulations concerning Cannabis; it is their right to grow industrial hemp pursuant to their own state law and the United States Constitution.”
Vote Hemp is the nation’s leading industrial hemp advocacy group and its supporters are providing financial support for the lawsuit. If successful, farmers in America will be free to grow hemp according to their states farming laws without fear of federal interference.
You can see more about the case at Vote Hemp.