|Industrial hemp contains almost no THC, and is useless for getting high. It is, however, extremely useful for food, fiber, and fuel.|
Two North Dakota farmers who say they should be allowed to grow industrial hemp won’t be allowed to do so anytime soon.
A federal appeals court on Tuesday affirmed a lower court’s dismissal of a lawsuit by the farmers, who received North Dakota’s first state licenses to grow hemp nearly three years ago, reports James MacPherson of The Associated Press.
The men, Wayne Hauge and David Monson, never received required approval from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to grow the crop, which is considered a Schedule I drug under federal law.
The farmers sued the DEA, and their case has been before the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for more than a year after U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland dismissed it.
Hemp, which is used to make paper, lotion, clothing, and other products, is one variety of the plant cannabis. Another variety is used to produce marijuana. Under federal law, parts of the industrial hemp plant are considered controlled substances.
Judge Hovland told the farmers that the best remedy might be to ask Congress to change the law to distinguish hemp from marijuana.
|Farmers Wayne Hauge and David Monson, from left, with attorney Tim Purdon|
North Dakota officials issued Monson, a state legislator as well as a farmer, and Hauge the nation’s first licenses to grow hemp in 2007. Without permission from the DEA, though they could still be arrested for growing the crop.
Hemp contains trace amounts of tetrahydrocannibinol (THC), the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. The DEA maintains this means the plant falls under federal drug laws. Hemp advocates say the plant is safe and that it doesn’t contain enough THC to produce a high.
Monson had planned to grow 10 acres of hemp on his farm in northeastern North Dakota. He said hemp is legally grown in Canada just 25 miles north of his farm. Canada legalized industrial hemp in 1998 after a 60-year prohibition.
Hemp products may be imported to the United States, but the DEA’s ban on domestic production prevents American farmers from growing the crop. Domestic hemp product manufacturers are forced to turn to suppliers from other countries where hemp is legal to grow, including Canada, China, and most of the European Union.