[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, 
Johnson said.

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 
Bedford, Mass.

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

DEA: http://www.dea.gov

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