Pubdate: Wed, 07 Mar 2007
Source: Bismarck Tribune (ND)
Copyright: 2007 The Bismarck Tribune
Author: Blake Nicholson, Associated Press Writer
Bookmark: (Hemp)


Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson is asking the federal Drug 
Enforcement Administration to make a decision on industrial hemp 
licenses for two North Dakota farmers by April 1. The DEA says it 
won't be rushed.

"To issue any decision after this year's planting season is to decide 
against the applicants, since these applications are for the calendar 
year 2007," Johnson said in a letter this week to DEA Administrator 
Karen Tandy.

Farmers Dave Monson and Wayne Hauge last month were issued the 
nation's first licenses to grow industrial hemp, a cousin of 
marijuana that falls under federal anti-drug rules even though it 
does not produce a high. The state licenses are worthless without DEA 

Johnson hand-delivered federal applications on Feb. 13 from Monson, a 
state lawmaker who farms near Osnabrock, and Hauge, a farmer from 
Ray, along with the farmers' nonrefundable $2,293 annual registration fees.

Johnson acknowledged that federal law does not require the DEA to 
decide on applications within a given time period, but said in his 
letter that a timely decision is needed to enable Monson and Hauge to 
prepare for planting.

Hauge said the crop must be in the ground by mid-May, and he needs 
time to acquire seed and prepare the land.

"If I couldn't obtain seeds by April 1, it's probably pretty much out 
the window," he said.

DEA spokeswoman Rogene Waite said the agency does not keep track of 
the average amount of time it takes for officials to decide on an 
application to manufacture a controlled substance.

She said the focus is on adequately analyzing an application, not on 
processing it in a certain amount of time.

The DEA already has rejected one request from Johnson. He asked late 
last year that the federal registration requirement for industrial 
hemp cultivation be waived.

Joseph Rannazzisi, a deputy assistant administrator with the DEA, 
said last month that federal law does not allow the agency to 
delegate its ability to regulate hemp to state officials. Although 
the DEA may waive registration requirements, it has done so only for 
law enforcement officers and other officials, he said.

Johnson, in his letter to Tandy, asked that the agency reconsider 
that position.

"If DEA is not prepared to waive the registration requirement, it 
should carefully consider the registration of applications that have 
been submitted," he said.

Hemp can be used to make everything from paper to lotion. The North 
Dakota Agriculture Department approved rules for commercial hemp 
farming licenses late last year. Patrice Lahlum, an Agriculture 
Department spokeswoman, said Tuesday that a third license is likely 
to be issued this week, and a fourth license within the next couple 
of weeks. Those farmers also will need DEA permission.

A bill signed by Gov. John Hoeven on Monday also gives the state 
regulatory authority over hemp processors.
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman