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For Immediate Release
Friday, Febuary 17, 2006

ND Department of Agriculture Press Release

CONTACT:
Patrice Lahlum or Ted Quanrud 701-328-2231

State to Seek Okay to Grow Industrial Hemp

BISMARCK, ND — North Dakota and three other states made their case Friday with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to allow the cultivation of industrial hemp.

"The DEA people were very cordial, but they told us that the process of legalizing the production of industrial hemp will be extremely complicated under existing federal law," said Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson. "The DEA has never responded to our earlier inquiries, but today we were able to present our case and learn from them what may be required in terms of regulations and safeguards."

Johnson and the agriculture commissioners from Massachusetts, West Virginia and Wisconsin met with DEA officials, including Joseph Rannazzisi (Deputy Assistant Administrator), Robert C. Gleason (Deputy Chief Counsel) and Eric Akres (Chief of Congressional Affairs).

Johnson said the North Dakota Department of Agriculture is in the process of drafting new rules to control the production of industrial hemp, and that he wanted to solicit input from the DEA. The new rules would implement state laws passed by the North Dakota legislature from 1999 through 2005.

"We were told by the DEA that growers, processors and importers of hemp seed would each have to be separately licensed, and that the DEA would need to establish quotas for the production and processing of industrial hemp," he said.

Johnson noted that the United States is alone among industrialized countries in banning cultivation of industrial hemp.

"The Canadians lifted their ban in 1998 and are now moving forward with large-scale cultivation of industrial hemp," he said. "It is obviously a crop that could do very well in North Dakota and provide our producers with another income source, as well as a valuable rotational crop."

Industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa) is widely grown around the world and is used in the manufacture of textiles, paper and rope. Its seed is also used for food and feed. Oil derived from the plant is used in cosmetics, paints and medicinal compounds. Although the industrial form of hemp contains only trace amounts of the psychoactive drug delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) found in marijuana, the DEA does not currently recognize the plant as distinct from marijuana.

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More information about industrial hemp may be found at www.VoteHemp.com and www.HempIndustries.org.

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