Fiber farmers DEA-nied

Dave Monson and Wayne Hauge, two farmers who sought to add industrial hemp into their crop rotation alongside wheat, barley, canola, soybeans, peas, lentils, and chickpeas in northern North Dakota are out several thousand dollars in filing fees this season, a sad harvest after a year of petitioning the federal government to recognize their state-issued licenses to grow the crop. Their federal suit against the DEA was dismissed Wednesday, but United States District Court Judge, Hon. Daniel L. Hovland, was fair (if not encouraging) in his remarks:

Industrial hemp may not be the terrible menace the DEA makes it out to be, but industrial hemp is still considered to be a Schedule I controlled substance under the current state of the law in this circuit and throughout the country. Marijuana and industrial hemp are members of the Cannabis sativa L. plant species for which the Controlled Substances Act presently makes no distinction. The Court recognizes that at some stage in the process the plant may contain such low levels of THC that it would be impractical to use as a recreational street drug. However, perceived problems relating to detection and enforcement seem to remain as does the current ban imposed by Congress and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The policy arguments raised by the plaintiffs are best suited for Congress rather than a federal courtroom in North Dakota.

Just one look at what appears to be sleet falling from the sky out in front of the Bismarck, N.D., federal building would be enough to win my sympathy for these farmers.