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North Dakota Legislator Close to Breaking Barrier to Hemp

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North Dakota state Rep. David Monson's phone has been ringing off the hook lately, and he says his computer is swamped with e-mails.

It is the middle of the busy legislative session, but it's Monson's role in a national issue that is attracting so much attention. He's closer than anyone else in the region to actually growing a commercial industrial hemp crop.

Monson has completed all of the necessary paperwork for his state-issued license.

"I filled in fingerprinting, and it was kind of fun doing the GPS positioning for the field," he says. "I've never done that before, so it was kind of interesting."

Monson says his son also is filling out state forms so he can help with the hemp production.

Although Monson quickly completed all of the steps necessary for state licensure, he's in a holding pattern for the moment, waiting to see what the Drug Enforcement Agency will decide on an application fee issue.

More than a month ago, North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson asked the federal agency to waive a $2,300 nonrefundable application fee, a major economic hurdle for potential producers with no guarantee that the agency will allow anyone to grow hemp.

"We've had several telephone conversations encouraging the DEA to make a decision," Johnson says. "We know it's on the administrator's desk right now, but they are still considering it.

"We've made the case that we think it's exorbitant for the DEA to charge this fee when the state of North Dakota is doing all the work, but it is their decision."

Monson says if the DEA takes too long to decide on the fee waiver, he may have to gamble and send in his check.

Meanwhile, Johnson says plenty of North Dakotans seem interested in following Monson's lead.

"We've received several applications, and as of a few days ago, we had received almost 20 requests for information, so we know there are people who are interested," he says.

The applications forms can be downloaded from the state Ag Department Web site, making it difficult to know how many farmers have taken that first step.

"We're telling farmers who are interested in this to go through the North Dakota process first, to sort of move it along as far as possible," Johnson says.

"Get your fingerprinting and background check done, give us the geopositioning location, and we'll issue the license. Then you can make your decision, do you want to apply to the DEA and pay that $2,300 nonrefundable fee?"

Johnson will be in Washington later this week for the midwinter National Association of State Departments of Agriculture meeting, and he plans to meet with DEA officials in person.

"I rather suspect some of my counterparts will want to come along to that meeting, as they did last year," he predicts.

Johnson says about a dozen states have industrial hemp laws in place, but no other state actually has made it possible for growers to obtain a state-issued license, as North Dakota has.

Although Monson has yet to send out his DEA application, he's already thinking about how to work his 10-acre hemp field in the Osnabrock area.

He's planning to do routine field preparation. "I'm thinking I'll probably use the regular amount of fertilizer I'd use for, say, wheat," he speculates. "Preparing the soil shouldn't require any special machinery. I don't think it will be very different from what I'd use for canola."

Although he hasn't found a seed source yet, Monson says he already knows of people interested in purchasing seed from his first crop. As for the bulkier, leafy stalks, he expects to find a researcher who can use it to study hemp fiber processing.

"I know when you go through the processing, you have to make sure it goes to a licensed processor, and we do have provisions to get that taken care of," he says.

Monson also is aware that harvesting hemp can be complicated, often requiring sturdier, more powerful machinery because of the crop's tough fibers. He expects to either hire a custom combiner or borrow machinery from someone in the area.

As one of the front-runners in the race to grow industrial hemp in the U.S., Monson has taken his share of criticism from anti-hemp groups. In response, he turns the tables on those who claim that industrial hemp will lead to widespread marijuana production.

"I tell them, 'By trying to stop us, you're promoting drug use in the U.S.' " Monson declares. "The amount of pollen our ( industrial hemp ) fields could produce would destroy the high-potency marijuana.

"You could pretty much drive it right out of here.

"Over the long haul, by neutralizing THC with cross-pollination, you could almost put 'em out of business," he states.

Source: Billings Gazette, The (MT)
Copyright: 2007 The Billings Gazette
Contact: speakup@billingsgazette.com
Website: billingsgazette.com | A Lee Enterprises Newspaper
 

Akornpatch

New Member
420 said:
"I tell them, 'By trying to stop us, you're promoting drug use in the U.S.' " Monson declares. "The amount of pollen our ( industrial hemp ) fields could produce would destroy the high-potency marijuana.

"You could pretty much drive it right out of here.

"Over the long haul, by neutralizing THC with cross-pollination, you could almost put 'em out of business," he states.
I was wondering, for a couple years now, how long it would take for them to figure that out. A**holes! Keep that stuff away from my babies.
 
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