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For Immediate Release
Monday, January 15, 2007

CONTACT:
Adam Eidinger 202-744-2671
adam@votehemp.com
Tom Murphy 207-542-4998
tom@votehemp.com

North Dakota Farmer is First to Apply for State License to Grow Industrial Hemp

BISMARCK, ND — North Dakota's Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson has accepted the first application from a farmer for a state industrial hemp license. The license, which is expected to be granted, will go to farmer and North Dakota Assistant House Majority Leader David Monson ten years after the first hemp bill was passed in the state. Farmers will make history, as North Dakota is the first state to grant commercial hemp farming licenses in the United States in fifty years. It is unclear what the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will do when they receive requests for the licenses to be effective.

"I submitted my application for an industrial hemp license with the state Department of Agriculture earlier today," said Representative David Monson, R-Osnabrock. "I expect that the state will grant me a hemp farming license, but I'm not sure that the $3,440 non-refundable registration fee I will send to the DEA with my application for manufacturing and importing will get me anything. Burton Johnson, an agronomist and professor at North Dakota State University (NDSU), has submitted at least two applications with the DEA since 1999, but has never received a license in those seven years," says Monson. "I'm prepared to take this to court if the DEA refuses to grant a permit in a reasonable amount of time or places onerous restrictions on it." Rep. Monson operates his farm in Osnabrock, ND and is only 25 miles from the Canadian border and 110 miles from the nearest hemp seed processing facility, Hemp Oil Canada in Ste. Agathe, Manitoba.

Commissioner Johnson cautioned that farmers who hold state industrial hemp licenses must also obtain permission from the DEA and that a state license is not effective until the licensee receives a registration from the DEA to import, produce or process industrial hemp. Last month Commissioner Johnson sent a letter to DEA administrator Karen Tandy asking that the DEA waive individual registration fees for newly-licensed industrial hemp producers in North Dakota and that the DEA work with the Agriculture Department so farmers can plant the historic first industrial hemp crop this spring.

North Dakota was one of the first states to pass industrial hemp legislation and has done so five times. North Dakota's first hemp law, passed in 1997, directed the State University Agriculture Experiment Station to do a study of industrial hemp production. In 1999 a pair of bills were passed, one a resolution urging Congress to acknowledge the difference between the agricultural crop known as industrial hemp and its drug-type relative, the second a bill authorizing the production of industrial hemp and removing it from the noxious weeds list. In 2001 another resolution was passed similar to the 1999 resolution, and in 2005 a bill was passed allowing for feral hemp seed collection and breeding at NDSU.

"The DEA could easily grant licenses to farmers and work with North Dakota under existing regulations, but we're not planning on re-writing our mission statement just yet," says Vote Hemp President Eric Steenstra. "It has been thirty-seven years since the ill-considered Controlled Substances Act (CSA) was passed, mistakenly making industrial hemp a Schedule I substance. The time is ripe for hemp to be grown here in the U.S. again. Farmers in North Dakota, and all across the U.S., should be able to grow industrial hemp just like their Canadian counterparts," says Steenstra.

Health Canada statistics show that Canada produced 24,021 acres of industrial hemp in 2005 and 48,060 acres in 2006. Vote Hemp estimates that the total retail value of hemp products sold in the U.S. is now around $270 million. The seed has been shown to have tremendous nutritional benefits in food.

Vote Hemp is a non-profit organization dedicated to the acceptance of and a free market for industrial hemp and to changes in current law to allow U.S. farmers to once again grow low-THC industrial hemp. 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.

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