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Hemp: North Dakota Farmers Head to Federal Appeals Court

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #560)
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

A pair of North Dakota farmers who want to be able to grow hemp were in US 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Paul, Minnesota, Wednesday to argue their case. Farmers Wayne Hauge and David Monson, who is also a Republican state representative, applied to grow hemp under North Dakota's hemp law but have yet to receive a permit to do so from the DEA. They filed suit in federal district court in Bismarck last year, but lost at the district court level.

The farmers and their attorneys, Joe Sandler and Tim Purdon, are appealing on a number of grounds, including the district court's ruling that hemp and marijuana are the same. The farmers argued that the scientific evidence is clear that hemp is genetically distinct from drug varieties of cannabis and that there are no psychoactive effects from ingesting it.

The DEA, which has jurisdiction over drug scheduling decisions, does not recognize any difference between hemp and marijuana. Under current federal law, anyone who grows industrial hemp for use in foods, lotions, fuels, cloth, and paper, among others, is subject to prosecution under federal marijuana cultivation statutes.

Justice Department attorney Melissa Patterson told the court that state law cannot override federal law. The Constitution gives Congress the power to regulate commerce between states, Patterson said, and that is the basis of federal drug laws. "What states do cannot expand or contract Congress's interstate regulation powers," Patterson told the judges.

But Sandler retorted that that was not the question before the court. "The question here is whether the mere existence of a plant can affect interstate commerce," he said.

In an effort to allay the concerns of the appeals court panel, the farmers and their attorneys argued that North Dakota's law is so strict that their hemp could not be converted into psychoactive marijuana and that the state's monitoring of hemp fields would prevent illicit marijuana cultivation. "It would be the last place in the world that anybody would do anything illegal," Sandler said.

A decision could come down in weeks or months.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Anonymous (not verified)

It can replace oil for fuel.

cotton and cut down on IMPORTS.

This Country NEEDS HEMP!

Fri, 11/14/2008 - 8:06pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I'm hoping Wayne and David get their way. Someone needs to let the DEA know that they are not the authority of what humans can and cannot ingest. Besides, once Dave and Wayne start legally growing it, the DEA can go down and smoke all they want. Who knows? Maybe they'll smoke themselves into reality.

Fri, 11/14/2008 - 9:11pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

and should not be used in the same sentence. That's the problem in the first place. they associate hemp with the stuff thats smoked, it needs to be disassociated from hemp. If the media and law enforcement and dea are to become aware and educated on this issue,they need to know they are not the same plant! everyone should practice this. I hate it when smoking weed gets lumped in with HEMP.

Sat, 11/15/2008 - 4:53pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Hemp and smoking weed are not the same, but they are both made possible by the same plant--and it was the potential for hemp to become the "New Billion Dollar Crop" that led to the prohibition of 'marihuana' (a mexican slang term made popular to demonize the plant, cannabis sativa.) The reason hemp and marijuana are so different is because they have been cultivated for different purposes over the last several thousand years, but technically they are the same species (which makes sense, as 'sativa' literally means 'useful.') We should all be pushing for the legalization of industrial hemp, but it would be much better to accept the larger reality of the situation.

Our current drug policies are an utter failure. They not only take away rights guaranteed by the Constitution, they turn children into drug runners and meth junkies while funding organized crime and terrorist organizations throughout the world. Beyond this, they cost tens of billions each year and have NEVER had an impact on either the supply or demand for mind-altering substances (according to statistics compiled by Law Enforcement Against

Furthermore, many of the schedule I drugs including cannabis have shown great potential for both medical AND psychiatric ailments. We continue to fund a bloody war in Mexico that has killed over 5,400 people in Mexico this year, but our clinical trials and medical professionals have proven marijuana to be safer and more effective than countless FDA approved pharmaceuticals. Why do you suppose they are so afraid of us growing our own medicine?!

Greed and an utter disrespect for nature is the REAL problem here, and anyone advocating for hemp needs to understand this disturbing reality. Please go to (sponsored by LEAP) in order to contact your elected government representatives and tell them to stop playing games with our rights, and with our childrens' future. No more lies, no more propaganda; instead we will have homegrown renewable energy and all the tools necessary for a new industrial revolution. We can also win the War on Terror and regain our self-respect (not to mention the respect of the rest of the world.)

Wed, 12/31/2008 - 6:51pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

The DEA doesn't know the difference between its ass and a hole in the ground,how can they get away w/saying,marijuana and hemp are the same!!....maybe somebody should send them a piece of hemp rope and say here ...dingus..smoke this!.......Drug Enforcement Agency!...listen to all the disclaimers about the side effects of the drugs they push these days on your TV....perhaps the DEA should do their job there as well or doesn't death count in a pharmaceutical...drug...such hippocrits...this is a country of laws allright...way too many,way too stupid,w/way too many privately owned prisons and stupid money corrupt enforcers!!...these people put your so called ''organized'' crime to shame!!......donl

Sun, 11/16/2008 - 8:06am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

You're correct, it's not the same thing as cannabis! I went on a canoe trip in Illinois when I was younger. While running some shoals, I looked up to my left to see a 10ft. tall cannabis plant. You can imagine my excitement! Well, I went back to get it, and took a huge bag of leaves. There must have been 50 huge plants, but not one had nary a bud. Being young and inexperienced, I figured the leaves would work OK. Wrong! I smoked that crap until my lungs ached, and got absolutely nothing from it, other than a bad cough for a few days. You CANNOT get high off hemp-smoking! I later told my Dad about it, and he explained that during the War Years, it was a common crop in the Midwest. What an eye-opener that was!

For other reasons, you can't grow cannabis in a hemp field, or even anywhere close, as cross-pollination will ruin any smokeable cannabis. Just another example of the DEA's ignorance. They're LOSING the Drug War, and they know it. Preventing US farmers from growing a very beneficial crop is simply the DEA doing what they do best: grasping at straws! It's very similar to the ridiculous propaganda they ran before the election in hopes of defeating the cannabis medical/decrim initiatives. As we now know, THEY LOST, and only made themselves look like the bumbling idiots they are!

Sun, 11/16/2008 - 5:10pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

from the Controlled Substances Act. So the DEA is not acting under the authority of the law in preventing farmers from growing the plant. Environmentalists who want to "save our forests" or soil health should definitely promote hemp farming for making paper and fabrics. Alternate health aficionados should promote it for the healthful uses of the oils and seeds as foods and cosmetics. Alternate fuel backers should promote it for an alternate energy source of fuel. Getting all those differing agendas to work together on legalizing hemp production is what is needed.

Sun, 11/16/2008 - 6:55pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

When Washington urged his gardener to sow Indian hemp everywhere, he was NOT talking about rope, seeds, or cosmetics. INDIAN hemp [Cannabis Indica] IS the real medical-grade herb, complete with the full set of cannabinoids. It was just forty years later that W.B. O'Shaughnessy brought the rest of the story into Western pharmacopoeia.

Sun, 11/16/2008 - 9:55pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Sticky, green bud, the best flavored version of marijuana, the heaviest high (makes you drowsey, at least for a while), makes pleasurable things even more pleasurable. I understand why it would be the best for medical grade mj. Sativa is not as tasty, has a lighter high, good for getting things done, especially things one doesn't usually enjoy doing, frequently leaves one with a mild headache ( depending on the source). I like both versions (headache free), but like the Indica better; often tho, my only available choice is a hybrid of the two that is most popular among growers in my area of the country.

Tue, 11/18/2008 - 4:38am Permalink

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