Bismark, ND: A state representative has filed suit in federal court in North Dakota against the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), alleging that the federal controlled substances act improperly denies state-licensed farmers the legal ability to cultivate hemp for industrial purposes. Hemp is a distinct variety of the plant species cannabis sativa that contains only minute (less than 1%) amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana.
"Congress did not intend to ban cultivation of industrial hemp where there is no risk of diversion into the market for drug marijuana," states the suit, which was filed by North Dakota state representative David Monson and farmer Wayne Hauge. Both plaintiffs are licensed under state law to cultivate hemp, but have not been granted federal permission to do so. Their suit seeks an injunction barring federal law enforcement officials from taking criminal actions against them for engaging in hemp cultivation.
"The regulated parts of industrial hemp plants could not possibly be diverted into and ‘swell’ or increase the supply of drug marijuana," the suit charges. "Therefore, there is no potential for any effect on interstate commerce in drug marijuana. Intrastate cultivation of industrial hemp thus has no connection or effect whatsoever on the interstate commerce [of the] drug marijuana that Congress has determined to regulate."
In 2006, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eight Circuit ruled that the federal government could prohibit the cultivation of hemp on Native American land because "problems of detection and enforcement easily justify a ban broader than the psychoactive variety of the plant."
In February, US Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) and nine Democrat co-sponsors introduced legislation in Congress seeking to grant states the "exclusive authority" to license and regulate the commercial production of industrial hemp.
According to a 2005 Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, "The United States is the only developed nation in which industrial hemp is not an established crop."
For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500 or visit: http://www.votehemp.org. Text of the lawsuit, David Monson and Wayne Hauge v. US Drug Enforcement Administration and United States Department of Justice, is available online at: http://www.votehemp.com/legal_cases_ND.html.