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Hemp: North Dakota Issues First Licenses to Grow Industrial Hemp, but DEA Roadblock Remains

North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson Monday signed the first two licenses issued by the state to grow industrial hemp. According to an Agriculture Department press release, the first license was issued to state Rep. David Monson (R-Osnabrock), the assistant majority leader who is also a farmer and strong proponent of industrial hemp. One other license has been issued, and 16 more applications have been submitted by would-be North Dakota hemp farmers.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/hemplicense.jpg
first ND hemp license signing (agdepartment.com )
Hemp is the fibrous cousin to marijuana, containing only trace amounts of THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in pot. Its fibers are used to make clothing and a variety of other goods, ranging from paper to auto-body panels, while its seeds and oils are used in a rapidly increasing number of food products. While hemp products may be sold and consumed in the United States, federal law prohibits growing it here, so American farmers are forced to stand by and watch as imported hemp products cross the border from Canada and come overseas from Europe, where it is legally grown.

"Rep. Monson has been the leader in developing the necessary legislation for North Dakota to legalize production of industrial hemp," Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson said Monday. "It is fitting that he has the first license." The second license was granted to Wayne Hauge of Ray. "These two North Dakota producers have met all the requirements, including FBI background checks," Johnson said. "They have invested considerable time, money and effort to meet the letter and spirit of the law."

But although North Dakota has moved to make hemp farming legal, it remains illegal under federal law. Johnson and North Dakota would-be hemp farmers will seek registration from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), but given the agency's hostile attitude toward hemp, that seems unlikely. Just last week, the DEA refused to waive the non-refundable annual $2,293 registration fee, despite Johnson's request that it do so.

While Johnson and the would-be hemp farmers may be going through the motions of seeking DEA approval to lay the basis for a later legal challenge, for now Johnson said he wants to try to reason with the agency.

"The rules require that a state license is not effective until the licensee receives a registration from DEA to import, produce or process industrial hemp," Johnson said. "I will meet with DEA officials about this matter in Washington early next week. I will ask for DEA's cooperation with our state program, and I will ask DEA to implement a reasonable process to allow North Dakota producers to grow industrial hemp."

Johnson said he wants to have a decision from DEA on whether the agency will register farmers to grow industrial hemp, and if registration is forthcoming, what additional restrictions will be placed on growers.

"The controls placed on licensed industrial hemp farmers by North Dakota's laws and regulations include criminal background checks, identification of fields by satellite tracking, minimum acreage requirements, seed certification and mandatory laboratory tests," Johnson said. "The chain of custody for viable hemp seed must be fully documented."

North Dakota issues first two hemp production licenses

Location: 
Bismarck, ND
United States
Publication/Source: 
KX News (ND)
URL: 
http://www.kxnet.com/getArticle.asp?s=rss&ArticleId=92837

They Only Have One Argument Against Hemp…And Its Wrong

The Columbia Tribune reports on the ongoing challenges faced by North Dakota farmers seeking to grow industrial hemp. Though the state of North Dakota has passed legislation authorizing hemp cultivation, farmers must obtain approval from DEA, which isn't exactly fast-tracking this.

Monson plans to raise hemp on only 10 acres at first, a demonstration crop, but under federal regulations, the acreage still must be completely fenced and reported by GPS coordinates. All hemp sales also must be reported.

"That’s a per-acre cost of about $400, and that would be prohibitive," Monson said.

So basically the DEA hasn't decided for sure, but in case they do allow hemp cultivation, they've created roadblocks to make it unprofitable.

Here's ONDCP's Tom Riley explaining the logic of this:

Growers could hide pot plants in hemp fields, complicating agents’ efforts to find them, said Tom Riley, of the White House Office on National Drug Control Policy.

"You have legitimate farmers who want to experiment with a new crop," Riley said. "But you have another group, very enthusiastic, who want to allow cultivation of hemp because they believe it will lead to a de facto legalization of marijuana.


"The last thing law enforcement people need is for the cultivation of marijuana-looking plants to spread," he said. "Are we going to ask them to go through row by row, field by field, to distinguish between legal hemp and marijuana?"

After being humiliated in The New York Times, it's impressive that they still have the nerve to raise this backwards argument. Cross-pollination would decimate any commercial marijuana in proximity to a hemp field. You can't mix them, Tom Riley. Stop saying that. Seriously, stop.

For a period of time, I assumed that they were simply ignorant of the cross-pollination issue. Perhaps upon coming to understand it, they would endorse hemp cultivation, which more or less ensures the absence of commercial marijuana growing in its vicinity. But now that this issue has been exposed in The Times, it seems much more likely that they're willfully ignoring it and proceeding with their usual nonsense.

The question, therefore, is why? They have one argument against industrial hemp, and it makes absolutely no sense. It's been proven to be comically wrong, and they have no other anti-hemp talking points to fall back on. When legitimate farmers with no interest in the drug culture ask for permission to grow hemp as an agricultural commodity, why do ONDCP and DEA grasp in desperation for even the most pitiful justifications to oppose them?

The answer is that for decades they've arbitrarily denied American farmers the right to participate in a multi-billion dollar industry. They are drug warriors waging battle against economic activities over which they hold no constitutional authority. As with so many other colossal drug war errors, to stop now would be to acknowledge the childish stubbornness and rank incompetance that have motivated their actions from the beginning.

Just another thing we shouldn't even be arguing about. It's not even a goddamn drug.

Location: 
United States

Industrial hemp producer? Plan riles feds' suspicions

Location: 
Osnabrock, ND
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Kansas City Star
URL: 
http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/nation/16587564.htm

Industrial hemp backer to try again

Location: 
Boise, ID
United States
Publication/Source: 
Spokesman-Review (WA)
URL: 
http://www.spokesmanreview.com/local/story.asp?ID=170858

Hemp: A Coming Epidemic

MSNBC reports on the alarming surge of hemp-laced foods being sold openly in our neighborhoods. Hemp products flow freely across our border from source countries such as Canada, where liberal policies have facilitated a booming industry targeting American snackers south of the border. While a ban on domestic hemp production provides some protection, it's becoming increasingly difficult to keep these products out of the hands of children.

According to MSNBC, hemp cultivation has been a problem for quite some time:

Hemp has been grown for at least the last 12,000 years for fiber and food. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both grew hemp and in fact Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence on hemp paper.

In recent years, hemp users have adopted increasingly diverse and discreet methods of administration:

Since the early 1990s, shelled hempseeds have been used as a food ingredient in a wide variety of foodstuffs, including baked goods, snacks, breakfast cereals, beverages, frozen desserts, tofu, and milk substitute.

The DEA has invested millions combating the dangers of hemp, both in court and in open fields around the country where the plant has learned to reproduce itself without human assistance. Still, there remains a well-funded campaign to legalize hemp in several states. Hemp advocates seek to deceive the public with misleading claims that it is a healthy food and that it isn't drugs.

To its credit, MSNBC refutes the dangerous myth that hemp foods are non-psychoactive:

If 20 percent of a food's ingredients are shelled hempseeds, and assuming a 2 ppm THC level, a human being would have to eat 50 pounds of the food in question to become intoxicated.


The prospect of hemp addicts consuming 50 pounds a day to get their fix is frightening indeed, and stands in stark contrast to the hemp advocates' repeated claims that it is "good for you."

Needless to say, this is not your daddy's granola bar.

Location: 
United States

Hemp: DEA Has Spent $175 Million Eradicating "Ditch Weed" Plants That Don't Get You High

In the past two decades, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has spent at least $175 million in direct spending and grants to the states to eradicate feral hemp plants, popularly known as "ditch weed." The plants, the hardy descendants of hemp plants grown by farmers at the federal government's request during World War II, do not contain enough THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, to get people high.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/ditchweedchart1.jpg
chart by Jon Gettman for Vote Hemp
According to figures from the DEA's Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program, it has seized or destroyed 4.7 billion feral hemp plants since 1984. That's in contrast to the 4.2 million marijuana plants it has seized or destroyed during the same period. In other words, 98.1% of all plants eradicated under the program were ditch weed, of which it is popularly remarked that "you could smoke a joint the size of a telephone pole and all you would get is a headache and a sore throat."

While the DEA is spending millions of tax payer dollars, including $11 million in 2005, to wipe out hemp plants, farmers in Canada and European countries are making millions growing hemp for use in a wide variety of food, clothing, and other products. Manufacturers of hemp products in the United States must import their hemp from countries with more enlightened policies.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/ditchweedchart2.jpg
chart by Jon Gettman for Vote Hemp
"It's Orwellian that the biggest target of the DEA's Eradication Program is actually not a drug but instead a useful plant for everything from food, clothing and even auto parts and currently must be imported to supply a $270 million industry," said Eric Steenstra, president of Vote Hemp, a group lobbying for increased acceptance of the versatile plant. "While Vote Hemp has urged the DEA to recognize the difference between hemp and marijuana so farmers could grow it here, the federal agency is spending millions of dollars to destroy hundreds of millions of harmless hemp plants."

DEA officials regularly argue that there is no difference between hemp and marijuana, but their own statistics belie that claim. In its reports on the domestic eradication program, the agency clearly differentiates between ditch weed and "cultivated marijuana."

Not only is the ditch weed eradication program a waste of money, it may even be counterproductive, said Vote Hemp national outreach coordinator Tom Murphy. "Much of the ditch weed eradicated is believed to be burned, turning a carbon consuming plant into a contributor of Greenhouse gasses," said Murphy in a post-Christmas press release. "For all the effort to find and destroy these harmless wild hemp plants they are coming back year after year. It is likely that the eradication programs help re-seed the locations were ditch weed is found. The late summer timing and removal method causes countless ripe seeds to fall to the ground where they will sprout again the following year."

Your tax dollars at work.

Hemp grows with technological advances

Location: 
Canada
Publication/Source: 
Business Edge (Canada)
URL: 
http://www.businessedge.ca/article.cfm/newsID/14336.cfm

Hemp: North Dakota Becomes First State to Legalize Industrial Production

Industrial hemp production becomes legal under North Dakota state law as of January 1, making it the first US state to do so. But while the state Agriculture Department is ready to start handing out licenses next month, it cautions potential farmers that they can't actually begin growing hemp until they are licensed by the state and are approved by the federal government.

Given that the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) remains opposed to legalizing the production of the marijuana relative -- the two plants are different cultivars of the cannabis plant, one grown for its oils, seeds, and fibers and the other to get you high -- North Dakota wheat, beet, and soybean farmers probably shouldn't be thinking about switching over anytime soon. That despite the fact that their cousins on the other side of that line in the trackless prairie that marks the US-Canada border in the area are growing it like crazy, sending it across the border, where it can be processed and sold as hemp products, and taking their US dollar profits back home.

In several bills passed since 1999, the North Dakota legislature has approved industrial hemp cultivation. Last month, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem gave his approval to implementing rules crafted by the Agriculture Department, whose head, Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson, has been a leading proponent of the potential new cash crop. On Monday, the rules won final approval in the legislature.

"The administrative rules committee of the Legislative Council has reviewed the rules and has not recommended any changes," Commissioner Johnson said in a press release Monday. "After Jan. 1, 2007, North Dakotans will be able to apply for licenses to grow industrial hemp."

But he also warned that the feds remain an obstacle. "Our rules clearly state that persons who hold licenses to grow industrial hemp must also obtain permission from the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). It will be up to the DEA to allow producers to compete with other countries for the profits from this potentially valuable crop."

Under the North Dakota rules, producers must consent to a criminal background check and document the amount of harvested hemp sold. Their fields must be provided with geopositioning instruments to track their location, and planted hemp seed must contain less than 0.03% THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.

Johnson told the Associated Press he had no illusions of hempen hills in North Dakota anytime soon, but that he hoped to pressure the DEA to act. "We'll see where it goes," he said. "Hopefully, North Dakota will be the first state where producers can grow hemp for legitimate uses. Nobody has ever put something like this in front of the DEA," he said. "We want to make industrial hemp happen. We have put these rules together in such an airtight fashion that we know we are not going to have illicit drugs being grown in North Dakota," Johnson said.

The DEA doesn't care. Hemp contains traces of THC and thus falls under the purview of the Controlled Substances Act, DEA Washington spokesman Steve Robertson told the AP. "There is no differentiation between hemp and marijuana," Robertson said. "The regulations for hemp are the same as they are for marijuana." [Ed: Robertson of course is lying -- yes, lying -- the CSA clearly gives DEA the authority to grant hemp growing licenses.]

But perhaps some frustrated North Dakota farmer with a hemp license will take the agency to court. And then perhaps the US can join the list of civilized countries that allow hemp production, with North Dakota in the vanguard.

Africa: As Marijuana Growing Expands, Swaziland Begins to Ponder Hemp

Faced with agricultural crisis and an irrepressible and growing marijuana farming sector, the southern African kingdom of Swaziland is now considering the production of another form of cannabis -- hemp. "Swazi Gold," as the locally produced pot is known, is a valuable commodity, fetching up to $5,000 a pound in the European market, and with growers of traditional crops such as cotton and sugar seeing tough times because of falling prices, generations-old, small-scale, traditional marijuana cultivation is being transformed into a major cash crop in the economically staggering nation.

Known in the local parlance as "dagga," Swaziland marijuana is consumed locally and exported to neighboring countries in southern Africa, as well as Europe. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), marijuana production in southern Africa generated about 10% of the $142 billion annual global marijuana trade. The UNODC's 2006 annual drug report calls Swaziland one of the major producers in the region. The other major regional marijuana producers are identified as Lesotho, Malawi, South Africa, Swaziland and Tanzania.

"People here will get around R80 [roughly US$11] for a 10kg bag of maize when they sell it at the market, but they will get R3,000 [about $405] for a 10kg bag of cannabis if they can sell it to someone who is going to take it outside of Swaziland," local informants told the UN's IRIN News Service. "A person can grow 30 10kg bags in a year up in the hills here, and they use the money to buy cows, furniture, send their children to school. We are in a good situation because our fathers grew dagga, so we could afford to go to school, have clothes and other benefits."

According to South Africa's Institute for Security Studies (ISS), the Swazi pot crop is being integrated into existing regional and global criminal networks. "Of the cannabis that is harvested, the best quality is earmarked for compression into one- or two-kilogram blocks that are smuggled via South Africa and Mozambique to Europe and the UK [United Kingdom]," said a recent ISS report on Swaziland's cannabis trade. "Nigerian criminal networks have moved into the dominant position in the Swazi cannabis trade during the past few years, and the proceeds of their sales in Europe are used to pay for cocaine purchased in South America, which is then smuggled to South Africa and elsewhere."

Swazi police attempt to eradicate the crops, but without much success. While the Swazi government gets limited anti-drug aid from the US, more important support from South Africa has ended because Swaziland can't afford to pay its share.

An IRIN reporter accompanied the head of Swaziland's anti-drug unit, Supt. Albert Mkhatshwa, on one search-and-destroy operation where a plantation was burned. "This is just dagga being grown by some of the villagers close by," Mkhatshwa explained. "We will spray it with weed killer and the plants will be dead in a day or so, but if we come back in a month's time it is likely more will be growing in the same spot. The people know we don't have the necessary resources to cover the whole area, so they will take a chance that we will not come back soon. People have been growing herbal cannabis for a long time in Swaziland, long before it was illegal," he said.

And if some local entrepreneurs and government officials have their way, people may be growing hemp as well. According to IRIN, the Swazi government is set to allow small-scale production of hemp to see if it has the potential to become an economically viable crop.

"In hemp we have an alternative to cotton, which has let us down badly over the last few years. It has been because of marijuana that we have found it difficult to talk about hemp, but that is changing, and we are beginning to shape public opinion to its benefits," said Lufto Dlamini, the Swazi Minister for Enterprise and Employment. "The government is considering a proposal to grow hemp, and a decision will be reached by the end of this month. But I expect it will be given the go-ahead to grow for research purposes, and if that proves successful then we will see," he told IRIN.

Dr Ben Dlamini, 70, a former education administrator in the Swazi Department of Education, was an early hemp advocate. "The major emphasis on cannabis in Swaziland has always been on smoking it and getting a 'high,' but if we were to grow hemp commercially it would solve a lot of problems," he told IRIN. "It can be used to manufacture fuels, textiles, healthy oils and lotions," he pointed out. "People are getting the idea that hemp can be used for purposes other than smoking, but the process of understanding this is very slow."

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