For Immediate Release
Monday, April 30, 2007
CONTACT: Adam Eidinger 202-744-2671
Tom Murphy 207-542-4998
North Dakota to DEA: Out of Our Hemp Fields
New Law Allows Hemp Farming Without DEA License, Farmers to Challenge DEA
BISMARCK, ND — North Dakota's legislature wrapped up last week by telling the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration that it would no longer require state-licensed industrial hemp farmers to seek DEA licenses. The law change removes the DEA license as a requirement of state law, but it can't protect farmers from federal prosecution. Vote Hemp, the nation's leading industrial hemp advocacy group, will support a lawsuit brought by ND-licensed hemp farmers to prevent the DEA from enforcing federal marijuana laws against them. If the farmers' lawsuit, which will be filed in the coming weeks, is successful, states across the nation will be free to implement hemp farming laws without fear of federal interference.
"With the broad authority that has been granted to them by Congress, the DEA could have easily approved the applications of the farmers in North Dakota," says Tom Murphy, National Outreach Coordinator for Vote Hemp. "The DEA could have also easily negotiated industrial hemp farming rules with North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson who has been talking to them about this for a year. Instead, they kept stalling until the time to plant had passed," says Mr. Murphy. "North Dakota had nothing left to do but cut the DEA out of the picture."
"I applied for my ND license in January and was hopeful the DEA would act quickly and affirm my right to plant industrial hemp this year. Unfortunately, the 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 ND farmer, David Monson. "It appears that DEA really doesn't want to work with anyone to resolve the issue", Monson added.
The hemp language in HB 1020 was the result of several months of fruitless negotiations between the DEA and North Dakota officials, who hoped to gain federal recognition for the state-licensed hemp farmers. It amends the state hemp farming law to explicitly remove the Drug Enforcement Administration from the process.
"The legislative action is a direct response to the DEA's refusal to waive registration requirements, including $3,440 per farmer in non-refundable yearly application fees, and the agency's inability to respond to the farmers' federal applications in time for spring planting," says Alexis Baden-Mayer, Vote Hemp's Legislative Director. Please click here to read a PDF of the DEA letter that was ND's last straw.
"The North Dakota legislature's bold action gives Vote Hemp the opportunity we've been working towards for nearly a decade. Now that there is a state with comprehensive hemp farming regulations that has explicitly eschewed DEA involvement, we can finally make the case that states have the legal ability to regulate industrial hemp farming within their borders without federal interference," says Baden-Mayer. Adding, "And, because ND Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson actually did spend nearly a year trying to work out an agreement with the DEA, it's clear that DEA isn't going to act in a reasonable way and isn't ever to going to acknowledge the practical differences between industrial hemp and marijuana and accommodate ND's plan to commercialize hemp farming."
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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.