Pubdate: Thu, 23 Aug 2007
Source: Bismarck Tribune (ND)
Copyright: 2007 The Bismarck Tribune
Author: Blake Nicholson, Associated Press Writer


The Justice Department is asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit
filed by two North Dakota farmers who applied to the Drug Enforcement
Administration for permission to grow industrial hemp.

The motion filed this week in federal court in Fargo says federal law
does not distinguish between industrial hemp and marijuana, which can
cause mood changes when smoked or eaten. It also says Dave Monson, a
state legislator who farms near Osnabrock, and Wayne Hauge, a farmer
from Ray in northwestern North Dakota, do not have a case because the
DEA has not finished reviewing their applications and they cannot
prove serious harm.

Tim Purdon, a Bismarck attorney who represents the farmers, called the
DEA's response "predictable and without merit."

The farmers' lawsuit, filed in June, asks a federal judge to recognize
that hemp can legally be grown in North Dakota through the state
licensing process, which was approved by the North Dakota Agriculture
Department late last year.

"The DEA continues to confuse industrial hemp and marijuana, and
pretends that they can't allow states to regulate hemp farming,"
Purdon said Wednesday. "Both assertions are untrue and

Purdon said he would file a response to the defense motion within a
few weeks.

Monson and Hauge in February were issued the nation's first state
licenses to grow industrial hemp, which falls under federal anti-drug
rules because it has trace amounts of the mind-altering chemical THC.
The North Dakota licenses are worthless without federal permission.

North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson hand-delivered
applications from the two farmers to the DEA in mid-February, along
with the farmers' nonrefundable $2,293 annual federal registration

Johnson asked for a decision by April 1 so the farmers could get a
crop in the ground. The DEA said that was unreasonable because the
approval process included, among other steps, a 60-day comment period,
a background check of the applicants and a farm inspection.

Monson had planned to seed 10 acres and Hauge planned to seed 100
acres of industrial hemp, which can be used to make everything from
paper to lotion and is legally grown in several other countries
including Canada. It is too late in the growing season for the North
Dakota farmers to seed a hemp crop this year, and their state licenses
are good for only one season.

The DEA earlier rejected a request from Johnson to waive the federal
registration requirement for hemp cultivation. 
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