For Immediate Release
Thursday, February 8, 2007
Tom Murphy 207-542-4998
Adam Eidinger 202-744-2671
Vote Hemp Exposes ONDCP and
about Hemp Farming
Canadian Govt. Can Tell Difference Between Hemp
Why Can't the U.S.?
WASHINGTON, DC —
On January 28, 2007 in the Minneapolis Star Tribune
hemp producer? Plan raises feds' suspicions," Tom
Riley of the White House Office on National Drug Control
Policy (ONDCP) was quoted as saying:
"You have legitimate farmers who want
to experiment with a new crop," Riley said. "But you
have another group, very enthusiastic, who want to
allow cultivation of hemp because they believe it
will lead to a de facto legalization of marijuana."
Mr. Riley continued with "The last thing law enforcement
people need is for the cultivation of marijuana-looking
plants to spread. Are we going to ask them to go through
row by row, field by field, to distinguish between
legal hemp and marijuana?"
"The ONDCP is wrong in its characterization of industrial hemp advocates, and there is no evidence that farmers who grow industrial hemp are hiding marijuana plants in their fields, whether in Canada or anywhere else," says Vote Hemp President Eric Steenstra. "Because cross pollination of low THC industrial hemp and high THC marijuana is inevitable illicit marijuana growers avoid industrial hemp fields to protect the potency of their drug crop. It's simply illogical that a farmer's industrial hemp fields are ideal places to hide marijuana plants with all the extra scrutiny that comes with growing the crop. It's sad that, instead of a real policy debate on the issue of farming industrial hemp in the United States based on legislative intent and agronomic facts, the ONDCP and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) resort to false hyperbole and character assassination," says Steenstra. "Tom Riley is welcome to join me in Canada this summer for the Hemp Industries Association annual meeting and see for himself how our neighbors in the north can easily tell the difference between industrial hemp and marijuana crops."
Hemp farming in Canada is well regulated by Health Canada ensuring that only legitimate farmers are licensed and that they only grow government approved low-THC hemp. Requirements include applicant background checks, GPS coordinates of hemp fields, the use of varieties of approved low-THC certified hemp seed purchased from licensed seed vendors, and random inspections and testing. This licensing scheme ensures that farmers are only growing non-drug industrial hemp and not marijuana. Even though law enforcement is able to distinguish the difference between hemp and marijuana, the licensing process eliminates the need for them to visually distinguish between industrial hemp and its drug psychoactive cousin.
about industrial hemp are prevalent in the public
policy of the DEA as well. Steve Robertson, a DEA special
agent in Washington, has also weighed in on the North
Dakota debate with similar statements. On May 3, 2006
in the Grand Forks Herald story "State's first
hemp farming rules aimed at clearing federal hurdle,"
"The DEA does not have the authority
to change existing federal law ... It's very simple
for us: The law is there and we enforce the law ...
We are law enforcement, not lawmakers."
"It's interesting that Special Agent Robertson pretends that the DEA is purely a law enforcement entity, as they are not," says Tom Murphy, National Outreach Coordinator for Vote Hemp. "Like many Federal agencies, the DEA has been granted broad authority by Congress to interpret the statutes in the United States Code, such as the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). This includes re-scheduling substances and promulgating detailed rules and regulations. The DEA could easily negotiate industrial hemp farming rules with North Dakota under the Administrative Procedures Act, 5 USC 563. It is obvious that the current rules are not set up for farmers to grow an agricultural crop that has no potential for use as a drug" says Mr. Murphy. "Instead the DEA chooses to interfere in the legislative process by confusing legislators, reporters and the public with needless and misleading rhetoric."
Industrial hemp plants have long and strong stalks, have few branches, have been bred for maximum production of fiber and/or seed, and grow up to 16 feet in height. They are planted in high densities of 100 to 300 plants per square yard. On the other hand, drug varieties of Cannabis are shorter, are not allowed to go to seed, and have been bred to maximize branching and thus leaves and flowers. They are planted much less densely to promote bushiness. The drug and non-drug varieties are harvested at different times, and planting densities look very different from the air.
The last commercial hemp crops in the United States were grown in central Wisconsin in 1957, and these crops were purchased and processed by the Rens Hemp Company in Brandon, about 40 miles northwest of Milwaukee. The primary reason industrial hemp has not been grown in the U.S. since then is because of its misclassification as a Schedule I drug in the CSA of 1970. The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 had provisions for farmers to grow non-psychoactive hemp by paying an annual occupational tax of $1.00. The exemption for hemp products was contained in the definition of marihuana in the Act:
"The term 'marihuana' means
all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L. ... but
shall not include the mature stalks of such plant,
fiber produced from such stalks, oil or cake made
from the seeds of such plant, any other compound,
manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation
of such mature stalks (except the resin extracted
therefrom), fiber, oil, or cake, or the sterilized
seed of such plant which is incapable of germination."
The language of the exemption was carried over almost verbatim to the definition of marihuana in the CSA [21 U.S.C. §802(16)] which superseded the 1937 Tax Act, but since there was no active hemp industry at the time the provisions for hemp farming were not included in the new Act.
There is also an exemption for hemp farming in the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961 as amended by the 1972 Protocol Amending the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961. Article 28 states that:
"2. This Convention shall not apply
to the cultivation of the cannabis plant exclusively
for industrial purposes (fibre and seed) or horticultural
Laws allowing the farming of industrial
hemp would not be in conflict with the Single Convention
of which the U.S. is a signatory.
Seven states (Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia) have now changed their laws to give farmers an affirmative right to grow industrial hemp commercially or for research purposes. All require a license from the DEA to grow the crop. Only Hawaii has grown hemp in recent years, but its research program ended when the DEA refused to renew the license. California's AB 1147 addressed the DEA's bad faith interference by providing that the federal government has no basis or right to interfere with hemp grown in California pursuant to AB 1147.
Vote Hemp is a non-profit organization
dedicated to the acceptance of and a free market for
industrial hemp and to changes in current law to allow
U.S. farmers to once again grow low-THC industrial hemp.
More information about hemp legislation and the crop's
many uses may be found at www.VoteHemp.com
BETA SP or DVD Video News Releases featuring footage
of hemp farming in other countries are available upon
request by contacting Adam Eidinger at 202-744-2671.