[Market-farming] another possibility
DFORD8N at aol.com
DFORD8N at aol.com
Mon Jan 15 07:11:03 EST 2007
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) -- David Monson began pushing the idea of growing
industrial hemp in the United States a decade ago. Now his goal may be within reach
-- but first he needs to be fingerprinted. Monson plans this week to apply to
become the nation's first licensed industrial hemp farmer. He will have to
provide two sets of fingerprints and proof that he's not a criminal.
The farmer, school superintendent and state legislator would like to start by
growing 10 acres of the crop, and he spent part of his weekend staking out
the field he wants to use.
''I'm starting to see that we maybe have a chance,'' Monson said. ''For a
while, it was getting really depressing.''
Last month, the state Agriculture Department finished its work on rules
farmers may use to grow industrial hemp, a cousin of marijuana that does not have
the drug's hallucinogenic properties. The sturdy, fibrous plant is used to make
an assortment of products, ranging from paper, rope and lotions to car
panels, carpet backing and animal bedding.
Applicants must provide latitude and longitude coordinates for their proposed
hemp fields, furnish fingerprints and pay at least $202 in fees, including
$37 to cover the cost of criminal record checks.
Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson said the federal Drug Enforcement
Administration still must give its permission before Monson, or anyone else, may
grow industrial hemp.
''That is going to be a major hurdle,'' Johnson said.
Another impediment is the DEA's annual registration fee of $2,293, which is
nonrefundable even if the agency does not grant permission to grow industrial
hemp. Processing the paperwork for Monson's license should take about a month,
A DEA spokesman has said North Dakota applications to grow industrial hemp
will be reviewed, and Johnson said North Dakota's rules were developed with the
agency's concerns in mind. Law enforcement officials fear industrial hemp can
shield illicit marijuana, although hemp supporters say the concern is
North Dakota is one of seven states that have authorized industrial hemp
farming. The others are Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana and West
Virginia, according to Vote Hemp, an industrial hemp advocacy organization based in
California lawmakers approved legislation last year that set out rules for
industrial hemp production, but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed it. The law
asserted that the federal government lacked authority to regulate industrial
hemp as a drug.
In 2005, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, introduced legislation to exclude
industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana in federal drug laws. It never
came to a vote.
Monson farms near Osnabrock, a Cavalier County community in North Dakota's
northeastern corner. He is the assistant Republican majority leader in the North
Dakota House and is the school superintendent in Edinburg, which has about
140 students in grades kindergarten through 12.
In 1997, during his second session in the Legislature, Monson successfully
pushed a bill to require North Dakota State University to study industrial hemp
as an alternative crop for the state's farmers.
Canada made it legal for farmers to grow the crop in March 1998. Last year,
Canadian farmers planted 48,060 acres of hemp, government statistics say.
Manitoba and Saskatchewan, the provinces along North Dakota's northern border, were
Canada's biggest hemp producers.
''I do know that industrial hemp grows really well 20 miles north of me,''
Monson said. ''I don't see any reason why that wouldn't be a major crop for me,
if this could go through.''
On the Net:
Vote Hemp: http://www.votehemp.com
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