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Vote Hemp Press Release: North Dakota Farmers File Lawsuit Against DEA to Grow Industrial Hemp

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, June 18, 2007 CONTACT: Adam Eidinger, T: 202-744-2671 or E: adam@votehemp.com, or Tom Murphy, T: 207-542-4998, E: tom@votehemp.com North Dakota Farmers File Lawsuit Against DEA to Grow Industrial Hemp Plaintiffs Seek Federal Recognition of State-Issued Hemp Farming Licenses BISMARCK, ND – Two North Dakota farmers filed a lawsuit today in U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota in an effort to end the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) obstruction of commercial hemp farming in the United States. If successful, the legal action would result in licensed hemp farmers receiving assurances that no federal agency could hold them criminally liable under the Controlled Substances Act. Vote Hemp’s grassroots supporters are funding the legal action. A copy of the complaint is available online at: http://www.votehemp.com/legal_cases_ND.html. The farmers – State Rep. David Monson from Osnabrock and Wayne Hauge from Ray – were issued their state licenses to grow industrial hemp from North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson in February 2007. At that time the farmers applied for a DEA permit to grow industrial hemp and import live seed. Over the next few months, however, the agency’s inaction on the applications fueled frustration in North Dakota’s legislature. When lawmakers concluded that DEA had no intention of working cooperatively with the state’s first-in-the-nation hemp farming rules, the North Dakota legislature voted overwhelmingly to drop the DEA licensing requirement from the statute. “I applied for my North Dakota state license in January and was hopeful that DEA would act quickly and affirm my right to plant industrial hemp this year. Unfortunately, DEA has not responded in any way other than to state that it would take them a lot more time than the window of time I have to import seed and plant the crop,” said Rep. David Monson, who is the Assistant Majority (Republican) Leader. “It appears that DEA really doesn’t want to work with anyone to resolve the issue,” Monson added. One of the central arguments in the litigation is that industrial hemp is defined to be those varieties of Cannabis that have no drug value and are cultivated exclusively for fiber and seed. Although useless as a drug crop, industrial hemp plants are distinct varieties of Cannabis sativa L., the same species from which marijuana varieties come. DEA considers industrial hemp plants to be “marihuana,” a controlled substance under Schedule I of the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA), 21 U.S.C. §§ 801 et seq., the possession or production of which is subject to severe criminal penalties under that law, including property forfeiture. “We are asking that DEA to do nothing, exactly what they have done for ten years,” says Tim Purdon one of the attorneys working for Monson and Hauge. “North Dakota’s rules no longer require a DEA permit so we are basically asking the court to tell DEA to leave our farmers alone.” The express language of the CSA has specifically provided that hemp fiber, seed oil and seed incapable of germination are exempt from the definition of “marihuana” and are thus not controlled substances under that law. By virtue of this exemption, it is currently lawful under federal law – and has been for almost 70 years – to import into the U.S., sell within the U.S., and make and sell products made from, the excluded parts of the Cannabis plant (i.e., hemp fiber, stalk, seed oil and seed incapable of germination). The farmers seek a declaration that the CSA does not apply to the industrial hemp plants they seek to cultivate pursuant to state law because: (1) only hemp fiber, stalk, sterilized seed and seed oil, items expressly exempted from the CSA, will enter the marketplace; and (2) the industrial hemp to be grown will be useless as a drug crop due to North Dakota legal requirements for extremely low THC levels. Further, to the extent the DEA attempts to argue that, despite these facts, the CSA does apply to hemp farming under North Dakota law, this would be an unconstitutional federal restraint on commerce occurring purely within the borders of North Dakota. “I want to grow hemp because it will fill a niche market in numerous areas,” says fourth generation farmer and certified public accountant Wayne Hauge. “In recent years there has been strong growth in demand for hemp seeds in the U.S., but the American farmer is being left out while Canadian, European and Chinese farmers are filling the void created by our outdated federal policy.” Last year, just over 48,000 acres of hemp were grown in Canada, primarily in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, provinces that border North Dakota. Hemp farmers in Canada averaged $250 CDN per acre in profit in 2006, according to the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance, an association of businesses, farmers and researchers. Hemp is a good rotational crop with the ability to reduce weeds in future cereal crops. Very few chemicals, if any, are required to grow the crop which is considered a good alternative to those with harmful environmental impacts such as cotton, tobacco and soy. In the largest hemp producing country, China, which grows 2 million acres, hemp hurds are processed into lightweight boards, and hemp fibers, already used in the paper and automotive industries, are finding new uses as reinforcement in plastics for products such as window frames and floor coverings. (In fact, some of these innovative products will be used on a large scale at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, according to news reports.) In Sweden, companies including IKEA, Volvo and Saab have shown interest in hemp fibers and hurds for use in vehicle interiors and furniture. In the UK, Germany and the Netherlands, considerable investments are being made to develop utilize hemp fiber in composites which are used to manufacture auto parts for BMW, Chrysler and Mercedes. In Canada, Germany and Japan, businesses are investigating reinforcing Polylactide (PLA) plastic with hemp fibers in order to widen the technology’s field of applications. # # # 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 the 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.
Location: 
Bismarck, ND
United States

chicagovigil.com responds to chicagovigil.org

The DEA is at it again, as Drug WarRant blogger Peter Guither puts it, and is holding another "vigil for lost promise" for people who have died from drugs, this one in Chicago (chicagovigil.org). The problem isn't so much what the DEA says -- some people do die from drugs -- but what they don't say. Hence Guither's vigil for lost promise for people who have died from the drug war (chicagovigil.com redirecting to it). It's too simplistic to blame it all on drugs. Even when it looks like drugs (e.g. it's not someone who was imprisoned under a law or shot by a SWAT team, someone actually died from some kind of drug use), it's often the combination of drugs with the drug laws that created the most deadly mix. Guess who has the top link in Google when searching on "vigil for lost promise," at least right now when I'm posting this?
Location: 
United States

North Dakota Farmers File Lawsuit Against DEA Over Hemp Ban

This afternoon, I particpated in a tele-news conference held in Bismarck, North Dakota, to announce the filing of a federal lawsuit by two North Dakota farmers (including a Republican state representative!) against the DEA for its refusal to issue permits allowing them to grow hemp. North Dakota has passed state legislation permitting hemp growing under strict regulations, and its hemp-friendly Agriculture Commissioner, Roger Johnson, has promulgated the necessary guidelines. Johnson issued state permits to the two farmers months ago and sought DEA approval, but DEA did nothing. Now, the farmers are suing. This case could be a big one, once and for all getting the DEA out of the way of commercial hemp farming. I'll be writing about this in a feature article this week, but in the meantime, you can check out VoteHemp's North Dakota information page here for more detailed info on the case. Too bad somebody has to sue the DEA to get it to uphold the Controlled Substance Act, which specifically exempts hemp from the marijuana prohibition.
Location: 
United States

Editorial: Ending the marijuana monopoly

Location: 
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Los Angeles Times
URL: 
http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-ed-marijuana31may31,0,987800.story?coll=la-opinion-leftrail

Why Does DEA Teach Meth-Cooking to the Public?

This is just bizarre. I swear, every time I think I'm on the verge of understanding what motivates these people, they find increasingly strange ways to waste our money:

Cooking methamphetamine takes only a few hours and requires simple household ingredients, like striker plates from matchbooks, the guts of lithium batteries, drain cleaner.

"It's pretty gross," said Matt Leland, who works in career services at the University of Northern Colorado and who recently helped cook the drug in a lab. "If someone was truly interested in manufacturing meth, it would not be that hard."

The Drug Enforcement Administration invited Leland and other citizens - such as software engineers, a teacher, a pastor and a school principal - to make methamphetamine last week in a lab at Metropolitan State College of Denver. [Denver Post]

Ok. We understand that DEA is teaching private citizens how to manufacture meth, but why? Why the hell would they do that?

The class was held as part of the DEA's first Citizens Academy in order to give the public a close-up view of what the agency does to keep drugs off the street.

That's interesting, and I'm eager to attend, but it doesn't answer the question because cooking meth isn’t part of DEA's job at all. Their job is, of course, to stop people from cooking meth, which has now become the precise opposite of what they're doing.

The whole thing is mindlessly indulgent when you consider that no one really needs a chemistry lesson to infer that the constant explosions at their crazy neighbor's house might explain why he has so many strange visitors.

If you're gonna teach meth-cooking, teach it to immigrant store clerks before you arrest them for naively selling household items to undercover narcs.

Location: 
United States

Feature: With UMass Researcher One Decision Away From Approval to Grow Marijuana, Supporters Turn Up the Heat on the DEA

Six years after he first filed a petition with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) seeking to grow marijuana to supply researchers, University of Massachusetts agronomy professor Lyle Craker is now one decision away from winning DEA approval of his project. Last week, a DEA administrative law judge issued a final recommendation that the project be allowed to move forward.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/lylecraker.jpg
Lyle Craker (courtesy aclu.org/drugpolicy/)
Currently, the only marijuana available for scientific and medical research is grown at a US government facility at the University of Mississippi and distributed through the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). But NIDA has proven extremely reluctant to approve scientists' requests for access to marijuana when the research they are planning to conduct is on its medical uses.

"Respondent's registration to cultivate marijuana would be in the public interest," wrote Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner in her decision. "There is currently an inadequate supply of marijuana available for research purposes," she concluded, noting also that the risk of diversion was minimal and that Craker had complied with all applicable laws.

But the judge's decision is not binding. The final decision on Craker's petition will be made by the DEA's deputy administrator, and it is by no means certain that the functionary will heed the judge's recommendations. The agency has historically opposed any efforts to end the government monopoly on growing marijuana for research purposes and it has already stated that it disagrees with the judge's conclusions.

Backed by the nonprofit Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), which will finance the research, and represented by the American Civil Liberties Union's Drug Law Reform Project, Craker has persevered for more than half a decade as his request languished in the bowels of the DEA. Now, only one obstacle remains.

In an effort to press the DEA to respond favorably to the petition, Dr. Craker and his backers and supporters held a press conference Wednesday at the agency's Northern Virginia headquarters to turn up the heat. "Working with medical marijuana seems so similar to the work we're doing with other medicinal plants that I've never understood the DEA's big problem with it," said Craker.

"The DEA has an opportunity here to live up to its rhetoric, which has been that marijuana advocates should work on conducting research rather than filing lawsuits," said MAPS president Dr. Rick Doblin "It's become more and more obvious that the DEA has been obstructing potentially beneficial medical research, and now is the time for them to change," he said.

"For almost 20 years, MAPS has been trying to conduct the research," Doblin noted. "We've had two protocols approved by the FDA, one to look at AIDS wasting and the other looking at medical marijuana for migraines. Both were blocked by NIDA, which refused to provide the marijuana we needed to do the studies. We've been struggling for four years to purchase 10 grams for vaporizer research for a non-smoking delivery system. Currently, the government has a monopoly, and our ability to do research is fundamentally compromised," he noted.

"We've won the latest round in the perennial litigation, with the DEA judge recommending that Dr. Craker get the license," said Doblin. "Unfortunately, we have to unleash a major lobbying campaign to get the DEA to live up to its rhetoric. The government is too trapped into the drug war to be comfortable funding studies that might contradict the propaganda and 'send the wrong message.' We have a situation where the government is focused on suppressing research, not facilitating it."

Also at the press conference was medical marijuana patient Angel Raich, whose challenge to federal marijuana laws went all the way to the US Supreme Court before being denied in 2005. "It is extremely frustrating that the federal government has made a really large effort to block research that could help patients like me," said the California woman, who uses marijuana to alleviate the symptoms of seizure disorders, wasting syndrome, and an inoperable brain tumor, among other conditions. "It is time for the government and the DEA to stop playing games with patients' lives," she said.

"The ACLU is involved because we believe patients like Angel should be able to get their medicine from a pharmacy, like everyone else," said the ACLU's Drug Law Reform Project's Allen Hopper. "Judge Bittner reached the only decision she could under the law," he argued, noting that Bittner acknowledged that NIDA had a stockpile of research marijuana, but that researchers were routinely denied access to it.

"We are here today," Hopper continued, "because we are now one step away from entering the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval process. We are confident the administration will do the right thing, but we are also prepared to go to the federal court of appeals to force the DEA to do the right thing if necessary."

An impressive array of politicians and groups is prepared to push the DEA in the right direction. Massachusetts Sens. John Kerry (D) and Edward Kennedy (D) and 38 members of the House of Representatives have joined a broad range of scientific, medical and public health organizations in challenging the federal government's policy of blocking administrative channels and obstructing research that could lead to the development of marijuana as a prescription medicine. These organizations include the Lymphoma Foundation of America, the National Association for Public Health Policy, the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, as well as several state medical and nurses' associations.

Now it is up to the DEA to render a final decision. The DEA administrator who will make the call is not bound by Judge Bittner's recommendation, nor is she required to make her decision within any timeline. It will be up to public pressure to produce the desired results. Wednesday's press conference was only the beginning.

Following Positive Recommendation From DEA Judge, Fate of Medical Marijuana Research in U.S. is Now in the Hands of Top DEA Officials

Location: 
VA
United States
Publication/Source: 
PR-Inside (Austria)
URL: 
http://www.pr-inside.com/following-positive-recommendation-from-r130046.htm

As Meth Trade Goes Global, South Africa Becomes a Hub

Location: 
Cape Town
South Africa
Publication/Source: 
The Wall Street Journal
URL: 
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB117969636007508872.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

Pot club struggles for financial survival

Location: 
Santa Cruz, CA
United States
Publication/Source: 
Santa Cruz Sentinel (CA)
URL: 
http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/archive/2007/May/20/local/stories/03local.htm

The Colombia experiment

Location: 
Afghanistan
Publication/Source: 
The Ottawa Citizen (Canada)
URL: 
http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/news/business/story.html?id=e0509bad-a8e3-402d-b9df-5622ad9f61ca

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