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ND Farmers File Appeal In Hemp Case

Herb Fellow

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Bismarck – Two North Dakota farmers who have state licenses to grow industrial hemp have appealed a federal judge's dismissal of a lawsuit they filed against the federal government, which regulates the crop as a drug. Wayne Hauge's and Dave Monson's argument to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is that hemp, which can be used to make everything from lotion to rope, is not a substitute for its cousin, the illegal drug marijuana. Their appeal, which was announced earlier, was filed this week.

"If industrial hemp is not a substitute ... (then) the federal government cannot reach the state-regulated production of industrial hemp," said Tim Purdon, the attorney for the farmers. U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland last November said federal law considers industrial hemp to be the same as marijuana. Hovland suggested Congress change the legal definition of industrial hemp to explicitly distinguish it from marijuana, but members of North Dakota's congressional delegation have said there is little chance that will happen.

Vote Hemp, a nonprofit advocacy group, is funding the farmers' legal battle.

"The (Drug Enforcement Administration) has banned hemp farming for 50 years by conflating hemp and marijuana on very shaky legal ground while at the same time (Canadian) imports of hemp fiber, seed and oil are allowed," Vote Hemp President Eric Steenstra said in a statement. "With North Dakota regulating industrial hemp, there is no reasonable threat farmers would be able to grow marijuana without being caught." The DEA has 30 days to file a response to the appeal. Purdon said he expects oral arguments in late spring or early summer.

Source: Grand Forks Herald
Copyright: 2008, Grand Forks Herald
Contact: Associated Press
Website: Grand Forks Herald
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