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No Go for Hemp

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency won't be acting on North Dakotans applications to grow industrial hemp in time for the farmers to plant the crop this year.

North Dakota Agriculture Commission Roger Johnson says it is a "de facto denial."

"DEA's latest response is a de facto denial of permission," Johnson said. "If the applicants cannot have a decision in time to plant the crop, then the applications are meaningless."

DEA's delay was "not unexpected," Johnson said, "but [it is] still disappointing," Johnson says.

The two farmers – State Rep. David Monson, Osnabrock, and Wayne Hauge, Ray – obtained state licenses to grow industrial hemp and applied for registration from the DEA to activate the licenses. They have also paid the required fee of nearly $3,000 each.

Joseph Rannazzisi, DEA deputy assistant administrator, told Johnson in a letter dated March 27 that there was not enough time for the agency to conduct a complete review it says is needed to permit production of industrial hemp.

Johnson had earlier asked DEA to either register Monson and Hauge before April 1 or grant state authority to regulate cultivation of the crop.

"DEA has far more important concerns – stopping methamphetamine, for example – than continuing to prevent farmers from growing a legitimate crop," Johnson says. "Industrial hemp should not be considered a drug because it cannot produce any psychoactive effect. Every other industrialized country in the world allows production of industrialized hemp. It's really time DEA let the United States catch up."

Johnson said letters will be sent to all prospective industrial hemp producers who have expressed strong interest in applying for a state license to grow industrial hemp.

"If producers wish to move forward with state license applications, we will accommodate them," he said. "I want them to know, however, that it is virtually certain DEA will not allow the planting of industrial hemp in 2007."

The North Dakota Department of Agriculture supplied Johnson's comments.

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