Sunday, January 10, 2016

Legalizing Weed: Key Players in North Dakota's Legalization of Industrial Hemp Farming

By Lea Terry

As efforts to legalize weed have grown, so have industrial hemp crops. North Dakota is among several states that have legalized industrial hemp farming in recent years.

The United States banned the production of hemp several decades ago, because it comes from the same plant that is used for the drug marijuana. Hemp, however, doesn't contain enough of the active ingredient in marijuana to produce a high. Instead, hemp is an ancient crop used for centuries to produce a diverse array of consumer goods. 

U.S. companies began importing hemp from other countries several years ago, but wanted to make the most of its economic benefits by producing it locally. That's why several states began legalizing hemp in recent years. 

In North Dakota, the following people helped make industrial hemp farming legal in that state. While several states have legalized hemp farming, according to The Huffington Post, North Dakota is just one of five states that have actively implemented it.

1. North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple
In 2015, Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed into law House Bill 1436, which created a framework for industrial hemp farming in the state, The Huffington Post reported

2. State Reps. David Monson and Alan Fehr
State Reps. David Monson and Alan Fehr introduced HB 1436, the bill that legalized industrial hemp farming. As noted by the website The Joint Blog, the bill stated that the state would not need federal approval to enact the law. Unlike many other state laws, and unlike the 2014 Farm Bill, HB 1436 doesn't limit farmers to growing hemp for research purposes. The bill also allows hemp farming for commercial purposes.

3. North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson
When some North Dakota farmers tried to pursue industrial hemp farming under the state's new law, they were denied licenses from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency despite having permission from the state. Several then filed suit against the DEA. Commissioner Roger Johnson supported them. When the DEA said there wasn't enough time to complete the application process, Johnson said "DEA's latest response is a de facto denial of permission. If the applicants cannot have a decision in time to plant the crop, then the applications are meaningless," Biomass magazine reported.

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