NoDak Hempsters Moving Forward

Hemp growing in Canada
Hemp growing in Canada (by Photo by Scott T. Samson)

Although it is unclear whether farmers in North Dakota will be able to cultivate industrial hemp next year, the state's agricultural commissioner, Roger Johnson, is now accepting applications from farmers interested in receiving a state license to grow the plant. Hemp, the non-narcotic cousin of marijuana is a sustainable addition to crop rotation and is used to make everything from paper and fabric, to car parts, skin care products, and foods.

The crop was a staple of the American landscape until the 1960s, when federal narcos decided it should be banned – hemp is dope and therefore illegal, they argue. Two NoDak farmers – Dave Monson and Wayne Hauge– are fighting the Drug Enforcement Administration on that point, arguing that they have no power to regulate their state's purely intrastate commerce, and, moreover, that the Controlled Substances Act exempts the non-narcotic portions of the cannabis plant from their regulatory control. Monson and Hauge were the first two licensed by Johnson to plant the crop, but have thus far been unable to do so. They've sued the DEA and are waiting for a ruling from the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Their licenses, Johnson told the Jamestown Sun, have been renewed.

Although Johnson previously told state farmers to hold off in applying for the hemp growing licenses he has now reopened the process, which includes state and federal criminal background checks. Applications are due Jan. 1 he says. "Although the [DEA] continues to prevent holders of state licenses from growing industrial hemp, [NoDak Dept. of Agriculture] remains committed to fully implementing state laws authorizing the production, processing and sale of this crop in North Dakota."

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Dave Monson, Roger Johnson, industrial hemp, DEA

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