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Happy 10th Birthday, Canadian Hemp Industry!

[Courtesy of Ruth's Hemp Foods]

 

This week marks the 10th anniversary since Canada's Industrial Hemp Regulations came into effect.

On March 12, 1998, about 100 people gathered in Tillsonburg, Ontario with great excitement to hear our former Minister of Health, Allan Rock, make the announcement, formalizing what we had been working towards for several years previous.

We've come a long way. Starting at just 264 licensed acres in 1998, a high point was reached in 2006 at over 48,000 acres.

And the players have changed as well - very few of the faces in that room are still involved, and many new ones have appeared.

Now to grow hemp in the US... see below for a delicious way to support American farmers.

To celebrate the birthday of the modern hemp industry, we're taking 20% off of all our products! Shop at www.ruthshempfoods.com, and at check-out, code in Happy 10 to receive the discount. It will be good until March 22.

In Hemp and Health,


Ruth

VoteHemp bar

Support the right of American farmers to grow hemp!

Despite the fact that most Canadian hemp is now sold in the US, it is not legal to grow in that country... yet! Read about the struggle to legalize commercial hemp at

www.VoteHemp.com.

And here's a delicious way to support VoteHemp: buy the VoteHemp bar - we donate 20% of the profits of this bar to VoteHemp. Scroll to the bottom of this page http://www.ruthshempfoods.com/hempbars.html to buy the VoteHemp bar.

VoteHemp bar

hemp field

 

                   
Location: 
Canada

Hemp: Licensing Bill Passes Minnesota House, Would Require Federal Approval

A bill that would take Minnesota a step down the path toward the legalization of industrial hemp farming has now passed two House committee votes in two weeks. The hemp bill, HF 2168, would establish a process for licensing producers and distinguishes hemp from marijuana under state law, but any actual hemp planting would have to wait until approval by the DEA. There is no sign of that happening any time soon.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/votehemp1.jpg
hemp plants (Luke Zigovitz for votehemp.com)
The bill was introduced last year and carried over into this year's session. On February 25, it passed the House Agriculture, Rural Economies, and Veterans Affairs Committee. On Tuesday, the bill passed the House Public Safety and Civil Justice Committee on a narrow 7-6 vote.

It was opposed by organizations representing Minnesota law enforcement. The Minnesota Peace/Police Officers Association's Bob Bushman told lawmakers he feared allowing industrial hemp farming would open the door to drug legalization in the state. He also complained that it would be burdensome on the state's crime labs, although it was unclear how.

It has been nearly a decade since the first hemp bill came to St. Paul. Several were introduced in 1999, only to fail in committee. The same thing happened in 2002. It looks like this year the bill will at least make it to the House floor.

If the bill were to become law, Minnesota would join seven other states -- Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia -- that have passed legislation removing barriers to its research or production.

North Dakota’s Licensed Hemp Farmers File Appeal in Eighth Circuit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, February 19, 2007 CONTACTS: Tom Murphy 207-542-4998 or tom@votehemp.com, Adam Eidinger 202-744-2671 or adam@votehemp.com North Dakota’s Licensed Hemp Farmers File Appeal in Eighth Circuit BISMARCK, ND – Two North Dakota farmers, whose federal lawsuit to end the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) ban on state-licensed and regulated commercial hemp farming in the United States was dismissed on November 28, 2007, filed their appeal today in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. A copy of the appeal will be available later this evening at: http://www.VoteHemp.com/legal_cases_ND.html. Lawyers working on behalf of the farmers, State Representative David Monson and Wayne Hauge, are appealing the district court’s inexplicable ruling that said hemp and marijuana are the “same,” as the DEA has contended. The ruling failed to properly consider the Commerce Clause argument that the plaintiffs raised — that Congress cannot interfere with North Dakota’s state-regulated hemp program. Indeed, the lower court itself recognized in the decision under appeal that “the stalk, fiber, sterilized seed, and oil of the industrial hemp plant, and their derivatives, are legal under federal law, and those parts of the plant are expressly excluded from the definition of ‘marijuana’ under the CSA [Controlled Substances Act].” “This appeal is basically saying why can Canadian farmers grow non-drug industrial hemp plants to produce perfectly legal hemp fiber and seed commodities for the interstate US market, but North Dakota farmers cannot under North Dakota’s state-regulated industrial hemp program,” says Vote Hemp President Eric Steenstra. “The DEA has banned hemp farming for 50 years by conflating hemp and marijuana on very shaky legal ground while at the same time imports of hemp fiber, seed and oil are allowed. With North Dakota regulating industrial hemp, there is no reasonable threat farmers would be able to grow marijuana without being caught,” says Steenstra. Scientific evidence clearly shows that industrial hemp, which includes the oilseed and fiber varieties of Cannabis that would be grown pursuant to North Dakota law, is genetically distinct from the drug varieties of Cannabis and has absolutely no use as a recreational drug. Vote Hemp, the nation's leading industrial hemp advocacy group, and its supporters are providing financial assistance for the lawsuit. If the suit is ultimately successful, states across the nation will be free to implement their own regulated hemp farming programs without fear of federal interference. More information about the case can be found at: http://www.VoteHemp.com/legal_cases_ND.html. # # # Vote Hemp is a national, single-issue, non-profit organization dedicated to the acceptance of and a 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 and 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.
Location: 
Bismarck, ND
United States

Marijuana: Idaho Balks at Town's Pot Initiatives

Last month, voters in tiny Hailey, Idaho, approved three municipal initiatives that legalized medical marijuana, cultivation of industrial hemp, and ordered the city to make enforcement of state and federal marijuana laws the lowest law enforcement priority. Now, city officials have delayed acting on the initiatives, and Idaho's attorney general says the first two initiatives conflict with state law and are invalid and the third "is likely not an allowable subject for an initiative, and therefore invalid."

In the brief written by Deputy Attorney General Mitchell Toryanski, Toryanski said that in addition to conflicting with state law, the initiatives were also problematic on free speech grounds and because they affected the constitutional division of powers between the state and municipalities.

In the brief, Toryanski wrote that: "The Idaho Constitution guarantees that 'every person may freely speak, write and publish on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that liberty. The right to free speech includes the right not to speak.'"

Toryanski also cited Idaho case law on the division of powers to invalidate the lowest law enforcement priority initiative, noting that "while subjects of a legislative nature were allowable for local initiatives, subjects of an administrative nature were not."

"None of this surprises me in the least," Hailey city attorney Ned Williamson told Sun Valley Online. "There are at least three issues, three problems with the initiatives."

"The provision in the initiatives that require you guys to advocate for changes in law violate your freedom of speech and freedom of political discretion," Williamson said, referring to the requirement imposed on city officials to attempt to persuade officials in other cities, the county and anyone else to promote legal use of marijuana.

"The bottom line is that major provisions of the initiatives are illegal and are invalid," Williamson said. "It coincides with what I said in the past, and we have to decide how to proceed." Williamson said the city can choose between litigating, repealing or amending the initiatives.

Now, city officials have put off any decisions even on whether to move ahead with the oversight committees mandated by the initiatives. No word yet from the Idaho Liberty Lobby, the group that sponsored the initiatives.

Press Release: North Dakota’s Licensed Hemp Farmers Appeal Federal Court Decision

[Courtesy of Vote Hemp] FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 12, 2007 CONTACT: Adam Eidinger: 202-744-2671, adam@votehemp.com or Tom Murphy 207-542-4998, tom@votehemp.com North Dakota’s Licensed Hemp Farmers Appeal Federal Court Decision BISMARCK, ND – Two North Dakota farmers, who filed a federal lawsuit in June to end the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) ban on commercial hemp farming in the United States and had their case dismissed on November 28, have filed a notice of appeal today in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Lawyers working on behalf of the farmers, Representative David Monson and Wayne Hauge, are appealing a number of issues. In particular, the lower court inexplicably ruled that hemp and marijuana are the “same,” as the DEA has contended, and thus failed to properly consider the Commerce Clause argument that the plaintiffs raised — that Congress cannot interfere with North Dakota’s state-regulated hemp program. Scientific evidence clearly shows that industrial hemp, which includes the oilseed and fiber varieties of Cannabis that would have been grown pursuant to North Dakota law, is genetically distinct from the drug varieties of Cannabis and has absolutely no recreational drug effect. Even though the farmers' legal battle continues, the lawsuit prompted the DEA to respond to the North Dakota State University (NDSU) application for federal permission to grow industrial hemp for research purposes, which has languished for nearly a decade. University officials, however, say it could cost them more than $50,000 to install 10-foot-high fences and meet other strict DEA requirements such as high-powered lighting. NDSU officials are reviewing the DEA’s proposal, and Vote Hemp is hopeful that an agreement can be reached before planting season gets under way. If an agreement between the DEA and NDSU is reached and ultimately signed, it would pave the way for agricultural hemp research and development in North Dakota. Such research is key to developing varieties of industrial hemp best suited for North Dakota’s climate. “We are happy this lawsuit is moving forward with an appeal,” says Eric Steenstra, President of Vote Hemp, a non-profit organization working to bring industrial hemp farming back to the U.S. “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 enforcement 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,” adds Steenstra. Vote Hemp, the nation's leading industrial hemp advocacy group, and its supporters are providing financial support for the lawsuit. If it is ultimately successful, states across the nation will be free to implement their own hemp farming laws without fear of federal interference. More on the case can be found at: http://www.VoteHemp.com/legal_cases_ND.html.
Location: 
Bismarck, ND
United States

Hemp: Court Rejects Bid By North Dakota Farmers to Get DEA Out of the Way

In Bismarck, US District Court Judge Daniel Hovland Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit filed by two would-be North Dakota hemp farmers seeking to end the DEA's ban on commercial hemp farming in the United States. Controlling opinions in the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals find that the federal Controlled Substances Act includes industrial hemp within the definition of marijuana, thus leaving hemp under the jurisdiction of the drug agency, Hovland wrote in his 22-page decision.

Backed by a state law permitting industrial hemp production and a friendly state Department of Agriculture, farmers Wayne Hauge and David Monson, the latter also a Republican state legislator, applied for licenses from the DEA to grow hemp. When the DEA failed to act on their applications, they sued in federal court.

Attorneys for the farmers said they are considering whether to appeal the decision. Among possible grounds would be the court's finding, following the DEA, that hemp and marijuana are the same thing.

While recognizing that industrial hemp could be a valuable commercial crop for North Dakota and that the farmers are unlikely to ever get DEA approval of their applications, Hovland wrote that the issue is one best resolved by Congress.

"The policy arguments raised by the plaintiffs are best suited for Congress rather than a federal courtroom in North Dakota," wrote Hovland, noting that a bill -- the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2007 -- had been introduced to address the issue. "Whether efforts to amend the law will prevail, and whether North Dakota farmers will be permitted to grow industrial hemp in the future, are issues that should ultimately rest in the hands of Congress rather than in the hands of a federal judge."

"Obviously we are disappointed with the decision," said Eric Steenstra, president of Vote Hemp, a grassroots group working to bring industrial hemp farming back to the US. "The court's decision shows it understands that the established and growing market for industrial hemp would be beneficial for North Dakota farmers to supply. Yet the decision overlooks Congress's original intent -- and the fact that farmers continued to grow hemp in the US for twenty years after marijuana was banned. If the plaintiffs decide to appeal the case, we would wholeheartedly support that effort. We are not giving up and will take this decision to Washington, DC to prompt action by Congress on HR 1009, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2007, which would clarify a state's right to grow the crop," added Steenstra.

While the farmers lost their case, it has apparently prompted the DEA to finally act on an eight-year-old application from North Dakota State University to conduct research on industrial hemp. During oral arguments in the case two weeks ago in Bismarck, the DEA's failure to act on the university's application came under discussion as the court weighed the likelihood of the agency ever responding to the farmers. Now, the DEA has sent a "Memorandum of Agreement" to the university which, if signed by the school, would clear the way for research to get underway.

"It seems our arguments about the DEA's delay in processing NDSU's application have resulted in the agency finally taking positive action to allow research," noted David Bronner, president of the Hemp Industries Association (HIA) and Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, a manufacturer of soap and other body care products using hemp oil imported from Canada.

But that's small solace for hemp advocates and North Dakota farmers in the face of a federal court system that has so far been unable to apply common sense to the hemp question.

Press Release: Court Rejects North Dakota Farmers’ Bid to Grow Industrial Hemp

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 29, 2007 CONTACT: Adam Eidinger: 202-744-2671, adam@votehemp.com or Tom Murphy: 207-542-4998, tom@votehemp.com Court Rejects North Dakota Farmers’ Bid to Grow Industrial Hemp Congress Should Address this Problem, Says Judge Lawsuit Motivated DEA to Offer Hemp Research Agreement to NDSU after Eight-Year Wait BISMARCK, ND – Two North Dakota farmers, who filed a federal lawsuit in June to end the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) ban on commercial hemp farming in the United States, had their case dismissed by federal Judge Daniel Hovland yesterday. In a 22-page decision, Judge Hovland wrote that the problem facing state-licensed hemp farmers David Monson and Wayne Hauge needs to be addressed by Congress if they hope to ever grow the versatile crop which is used in everything from food and soap to clothing and auto parts. The decision can be read at: http://www.votehemp.com/legal_cases_ND.html. Lawyers working on behalf of the farmers are considering an appeal on a number of issues. In particular, the Court ruled that hemp and marijuana are the same, as the DEA has contended for years. However, scientific evidence clearly shows that not only is industrial hemp genetically distinct from the drug marijuana, there are also absolutely no psychoactive effects from ingesting it. “Obviously we are disappointed with the decision,” says Eric Steenstra, President of Vote Hemp, a grassroots group working to bring industrial hemp farming back to the U.S. “The Court’s decision shows it understands that the established and growing market for industrial hemp would be beneficial for North Dakota farmers to supply. Yet the decision overlooks Congress’s original intent – and the fact that farmers continued to grow hemp in the U.S. for twenty years after marijuana was banned. If the plaintiffs decide to appeal the case, we would wholeheartedly support that effort. We are not giving up and will take this decision to Washington, DC to prompt action by Congress on HR 1009, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2007, which would clarify a state’s right to grow the crop,” adds Steenstra. In a related development, Vote Hemp has learned that the DEA has sent a “Memorandum of Agreement” to North Dakota State University (NDSU) which, if signed by the school, would clear the way for industrial hemp research there. NDSU filed an amicus brief in support of the farmers’ lawsuit which highlighted the university’s eight-year struggle to secure a license from the DEA to grow industrial hemp for research as mandated by state law. “It seems our arguments about the DEA’s delay in processing NDSU’s application have resulted in the agency finally taking positive action to allow research,” comments David Bronner, President of the Hemp Industries Association (HIA) and Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, a manufacturer of soap and other body care products using hemp oil imported from Canada. Vote Hemp, the nation's leading industrial hemp advocacy group, and its supporters are providing financial support for the lawsuit. If it is ultimately successful, states across the nation will be free to implement their own hemp farming laws without fear of federal interference. More on the case can be found at: http://www.VoteHemp.com/legal_cases_ND.html.
Location: 
Bismarck, ND
United States

Press Release: Judge Promises Decision by End of November in North Dakota Hemp Farming Lawsuit – Monson v. DEA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 15, 2007 CONTACT: Adam Eidinger at 202-744-2671, adam@votehemp.com, or Tom Murphy at 207-542-4998, tom@votehemp.com Judge Promises Decision by End of November in North Dakota Hemp Farming Lawsuit – Monson v. DEA BISMARCK, ND – Two North Dakota farmers who filed a lawsuit in June to end the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) ban on commercial hemp farming in the United States were in U.S. District Court on Wednesday, November 14, 2007. The farmers, State Rep. David Monson of Osnabrock and Wayne Hauge of Ray, observed the oral arguments made before Judge Daniel Hovland on their behalf by attorneys Tim Purdon and Joe Sandler. Judge Hovland stated he had read and re-read the briefs filed by both sides in the landmark case and concluded the hearing by saying, “I promise to make a decision by the end of the month,” in regards to the DEA’s motion to dismiss. In the meantime, Judge Hovland stayed the farmers motion for summary judgment as he felt the motion to dismiss should be dealt with first. “Today’s arguments revealed numerous weak points that the DEA is relying on to thwart this landmark case,” said Eric Steenstra, President of Vote Hemp. “The DEA’s assertion that the farmers didn’t have standing because they haven’t grown industrial hemp yet was rejected by Judge Hovland when he said ‘I am not convinced that the plaintiffs have to expose themselves to prosecution’ and reminded Department of Justice (DOJ) Attorney Wendy Ertmer, who argued on behalf of the government, that ‘this Court has jurisdiction to make a declaratory judgment,’ which is what we are seeking,” added Steenstra. Judge Hovland expressed skepticism that the DEA would ever act on the applications, based on the fact that an application by North Dakota State University was still pending after more than eight years. Judge Hovland also indicated he thinks that the DEA has “prejudged the merits of the applications to grow hemp.” While much of the government’s dispute centered on their contention that this case is not ripe because they are still considering the farmers’ application, attorney Joe Sandler argued that the application the farmers made to the DEA is no longer really the issue. “This case is unique because North Dakota is the only state to regulate industrial hemp so only the exempted portions of plant, that is, the non-viable seed, stalk and oil, enter commerce of any kind, whether intrastate or interstate,” said Sandler. “When the North Dakota legislature changed its eight-year-old hemp law to no longer require a DEA license this past April, it made it a matter of state law that the farmer who goes through the licensing process need not involve the DEA in any way since only the exempted portions of the plant, as described in the Controlled Substances Act, would enter commerce.” Judge Hovland also asked Ms. Ertmer what the DOJ’s position is on HR 1009, the federal Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2007. Ms. Ertmer said she did not know, however Vote Hemp believes that the DOJ would in fact aggressively oppose the Act if it were to be heard in Congress. A transcript of the November 14 hearing will be available in a couple weeks. If successful, the landmark lawsuit will lead to the first state–regulated commercial cultivation of industrial hemp in fifty years. 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. More on the case can be found at: http://www.VoteHemp.com/legal_cases_ND.html.
Location: 
Bismarck, ND
United States

Feature: Would-Be North Dakota Hemp Farmers Have Another Day in Court

A pair of North Dakota farmers who are suing the federal government over the DEA's failure to act on their applications to grow hemp will know by month's end if their case will continue, a federal district court judge in Bismarck said Wednesday. That comment from Judge Dan Hovland came at the end of a hearing on a motion by the government to dismiss the case.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/northdakota1.jpg
Wayne Hauge, David Monson, ND attorney Tim Purdon
Drug War Chronicle was there, sitting in the back of the courtroom as the farmers, the state of North Dakota, and hemp industry advocates took on a stubborn and recalcitrant DEA and its Justice Department mouthpieces. Besides the plaintiffs and lawyers for both sides, only a handful of hemp advocates and local media reporters were present.

Judge Hovland said he will rule on the motion within two weeks. He also stayed other motions before the court pending his ruling on the motion to dismiss.

Hemp products may be imported to the US, but a DEA ban on domestic production prevents US farmers from growing it, meaning domestic hemp product makers must turn to suppliers in countries where it is legal to grow, including Canada, China, and most of Europe.

Hemp is a member of the cannabis family, but unlike the marijuana consumed by recreational and medical marijuana users, contains only tiny amounts of the psychoactive substance that gets marijuana users "high." But the DEA argues that hemp is marijuana and that the Controlled Substances Act gives it authority to ban it.

The farmers and their attorneys disagree, pointing out that the CSA contains language explicitly exempting hemp fiber, seed oil, and seed incapable of germination from the definition of "marihuana" and are thus not controlled substances under that law. That same language was used to allow the legal import of hemp into the US as a result of a 2004 federal court decision siding with the hemp industry against the DEA.

The lawsuit filed by farmers Wayne Hauge and Dave Monson (who is also a Republican state legislator) is only the latest chapter in a decade-long struggle by North Dakota farmers to grow hemp. The state first passed hemp legislation in 1997, but things really began moving when state Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson, a strong hemp supporter, issued the first state permits to grow hemp to Hauge and Monson on February 6. One week later, Hauge and Monson sent a request to the DEA requesting licenses to grow their crops and noting that they needed a response by early April in order to get the crops in the ground this year.

The DEA failed to respond in a timely fashion. According to a March 27 DEA letter to Ag Commissioner Johnson, seven weeks was not enough time for the agency to arrive at a ruling on the request. That letter was the final straw for the North Dakotans, who then sued in federal court to get the DEA out of the way.

Just as the DEA appears determined to stall the hemp applications -- it has been sitting on one from North Dakota State University for eight years -- so the Justice Department seems much more interested in killing the case than arguing it. Wednesday's hearing in Bismarck saw Assistant US Attorney Wendy Ertmer try to make the case go away by arguing that the plaintiffs had no standing to sue the government because they had not been arrested or indicted and by arguing that district court was not the proper venue to hear it.

"The plaintiffs have suffered no injury," said Ertmer.

"Must they expose themselves to arrest to have standing?" asked an incredulous Judge Hovland.

"Generally, yes," Ertmer responded.

Hovland and Ertmer also tangled over the issue of jurisdiction, with Ertmer arguing that challenges to administrative rulings should be handled by federal appeals courts. Hovland seemed to differ, saying that district courts can indeed render declaratory judgements.

Judge Hovland also questioned Ertmer closely over the DEA's failure to act on either the NDSU application or Hauge and Monson's application. "There seems to be no realistic prospect that the DEA will grant the applications," he said.

"Why has it taken eight years and there is still no response to the NDSU application?" he asked. "Is exercising administrative remedies an exercise in futility? I see no prospect the plaintiffs will ever get a license," he said.

Throughout, Ertmer stuck to her guns and the government's official position that hemp is marijuana. She repeatedly referred to industrial hemp as "bulk marijuana" and derided North Dakota legislation that defines hemp as distinct from marijuana as meaningless. "It's still marijuana," she said.

Washington, DC, attorney Joe Sandler, who is representing the plaintiffs, provided a hint of arguments to come as he argued that neither the Supreme Court decision in the Raich case nor an 8th Circuit Court of Appeals case banning South Dakota Lakota Indian Alex White Plume from growing hemp on the Pine Ridge reservation should be controlling in the current case.

Hovland listened attentively, but then, noting that an industrial hemp bill had been introduced in Congress, wondered if a political solution were not the most appropriate. "Isn't the best remedy to amend the definition of industrial hemp under the (federal) Controlled Substances Act?" he asked. "To me, it seems like the easiest solution."

But Hauge, Monson, and their allies in the North Dakota state government and the hemp industry aren't waiting on Congress or the DEA. "If NDSU needed eight years and nothing was resolved, I think the DEA is trying to wait us out," Monson said. "It's a de facto denial of our license and that's part of our frustration."

Hauge and Monson said hemp could be a beneficial crop for North Dakota farmers. "We can start an entire industry with fiber, oil and meal," Monson said. "There are literally thousands of uses. This could be a huge economic benefit for North Dakota."

He is already getting requests for product from people who mistakenly think he's already growing a hemp crop, he said. "At least weekly, someone is calling asking to buy fiber or seed," Monson said. "There is certainly a market, especially on the West Coast and especially in the food industry. We can benefit here in North Dakota from the fiber."

Hauge, who farms a spread near the Canadian border in the western part of the state, said hemp is a potential money-maker, especially when grown in rotation with his durum, pea, and lentil crops. "You can make a profit, it's not just an alternative," Hauge said. "This is a rotation with a profit."

Hauge was hopeful following the hearing, saying he expected a ruling in the plaintiff's favor. "I'm positive about this," Hauge said. "The judge asked good questions and it shows his insight."

If Hovland denies the government motion to dismiss, it's back to court, where the plaintiffs will seek a summary declaration in their favor. But the federal courts move slowly, and planting season is only a few months away.

Hemp On the Menu in Bismarck, North Dakota

Bismarck's Bistro restaurant is known for its fine, grass-fed North Dakota beef and fine wines, but the menu last night included a tasty garden salad with hemp oil dressing. Hemp isn't usually on the menu--at least so far--but the folks at the Bistro added it in honor of the plaintiffs in a case that is being heard at the federal courthouse here this morning. In a little less than an hour, North Dakota farmers Wayne Hauge and Roger Munson, who is also a state senator, and their attorneys, will be in federal court to argue motions in their case against the DEA for refusing to act on their applications to grow hemp. The farmers have the support of the state government, which, in the face of DEA intransigence, has acted to get the DEA out of the way, as well as the hemp industry, some of whose representatives were at the dinner table at the Bistro last night. The attorneys told me last night the most likely outcome of today's hearings is that the judge will not rule immediately, but take the motions under consideration with a ruling to come shortly. The government will ask for a dismissal, but the hemp attorneys think that's unlikely. The hearing will last until about noon, then there will be a post-hearing press availability, which I will attend before heading back to central South Dakota. Yesterday, on the way up here, my gas mileage sucked as I fought bitter winds out of the northwest. Local TV news reported gusts of 74 mph yesterday. The wind is still blowing, but at least this afternoon it'll be at my back as I scoot across the lonely prairies. Look for a feature article on the hemp hearing on Friday.
Location: 
Bismarck, ND
United States

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