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Ray Farmer Fighting To Grow Hemp Product

Rocky Balboa

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Ray farmer Wayne Hauge knows a good cash crop when he sees one.

In industrial hemp, he finds almost boundless potential. Its uses span from fabrics, to food products to biofuels.

Hemp's red light comes in the form federal regulations which mistakenly label it in the same category as marijuana.

In January of 2007, Hauge said he originally received a certificate for growing industrial hemp from the North Dakota Department of Agriculture.

"In January of 2007, I had to apply for a federal license for cannabis because the federal DEA ( Drug Enforcement Agency ) does not recognize the word 'industrial hemp,'" he recalled.

He complied and filled out the application to grow the product with the DEA.

State Ag Commissioner Roger Johnson hand-delivered Hauge's and Osnabrock farmer David Monson's applications to DEA headquarters.

"They were less than receptive," Hauge said. "Hemp is identified differently under North Dakota law than cannabis because it is less than .3 a percent THC ( Tetrahydrocannabinol )."

Basically, one cannot get a high from industrial hemp.

"It is a cousin to cannabis, but it contains no psychoactive components - THC," he explained.

"Because of a delay in processing the applications, the decision was made to take the matter to U.S. District Court in Bismarck," Hauge continued. "U.S. Judge Daniel Hoveland just dismissed the case, and we filed an appeal in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals."

The motion of appeal was done earlier this month. The date of when arguments will be heard is still pending.

Financially backing the legal action is nation's leading advocacy group for the product, Vote Hemp.

"One of our goals is to get some fact-finding to discuss in court the definition of industrial hemp," Hauge said. "We have no interest in growing cannabis."

Just a couple of hours north of us in Canada, Hauge said industrial hemp is grown for multiple products.

"They're growing it, and they're doing well with it. They make soaps, lotions, ropes and twine. When you combine its fibers with flax, cotton and silk, it makes a very soft product. Hemp could make a nice prom dress," he said. "They've got hemp granola bars and hemp milk in three flavors."

He said the unopened hemp milk could set on a shelf almost a year unrefridgerated.

He recently received multiple samples of what hemp can produce.

He said there should be no fear in some hemp farmer trying to hide or grow pot within a hemp section.

Hauge said any industrial hemp grown in North Dakota would be required to have GPS coordinates to identify specifically where the hemp is grown, and producers would have to agree to an inspection at any 24-hour period.

"A producer would have go through a background check and be fingerprinted," he stated.

Hauge said industrial hemp would actually weaken the strength of any marijuana plants near the hemp.

"They are not going to put anything other than hemp in the middle of the field because it would cross-pollinate," Hauge explained. "Marijuana growers stay away from the stuff ( hemp ). It would reduce the THC, making the marijuana worthless."

He said not only is hemp very durable, but with new processing methods is also soft.

"Stalks are dissected into six-inch segments, put into a vat of enzymes and dissolved into a goo. That goo can be converted into multiple materials such as body armor, and uncover sports apparel," Hauge said.

He added it is proving popular for the outside of jackets.

"You combine it with some materials, and it's stronger, but lighter," he said.

He believes hemp is a good rotation crop, and likens it to flax for root depth.

According to Hauge, the hemp product also is more eco friendly for biofuel products than many other vegetations.

"It is more 'green.' It requires less chemicals to produce the biofuels," he said.

Until the recent spike in wheat prices, acre per acre, Hauge said the hemp was among the most profitable for a farmer.

In January, Ag Commissioner Johnson renewed the farmers' grower licenses.

In a recent new release, Johnson said he did not encourage Monson or Hauge to plant industrial hemp.

Monson and Hauge filed the lawsuit in federal court in an effort to end DEA's ban on commercial hemp farming in the U.S. The lawsuit was dismissed in November, and the appeal was filed in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals two weeks later.

Source: Williston Herald
Author: LeAnn Eckroth
Copyright: 2008 Williston Herald
Website: Williston Herald - Online Edition
 
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