North Dakota farmers Rep. Dave Monson and Wayne
Hauge were back in
court on November 12 in the U.S. Court of
Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in St. Paul,
Minnesota. They were appealing a decision by
the U.S. District Court in Bismarck, North
Dakota. All court documents
related to the case, including an audio file
of the oral arguments, can be found online.
Vote Hemp and its supporters are providing
financial assistance for the lawsuit.
If it is successful, states across the nation
will be free to implement their own hemp
farming laws without fear of federal
interference. Vote Hemp depends entirely on
contributions from supporters like you to do
our work. Please make a
to our Hemp Farmer Licensing and Legal
Support Fund today.
Our primary argument is a Commerce Clause
claim. We are arguing that under the unique
North Dakota regulatory scheme, no prohibited
parts of the plant will ever enter commerce
because they must be removed on the farm and
cannot be sold or transported. The farmers can
only trade in processed seed incapable of
germination, oil or fiber, which are all
indisputably legal. We also argued that
because the North Dakota law limits THC in
the hemp crop to 0.3% or less, the
farmers' hemp would not be fungible with
marijuana and would have no drug value. Essentially,
we are saying that because there would be no
interstate commerce in the prohibited parts
of the plant, the DEA cannot legally regulate this
activity per the Commerce Clause and the state
should be able to do so.
The farmers did initially apply for a federal
permit to cultivate hemp. The DEA license is
annual and requires a fee of more than $2,300. The
applications were delivered by the North
Dakota Agriculture Commissioner along with a letter
requesting a response by May 1, 2007. If the farmers
did not plant by June
1, it would be too late. It is now 20 months
later, and we still have no decision from the DEA.
Obviously, farmers cannot be expected to wait years to
answer. North Dakota State University applied
for a research permit and waited for more
than eight years to get a decision, which
only came after this lawsuit was filed. The
judges both at the district level and in the
Eighth Circuit noted this fact and
seemed sympathetic to our arguments that the DEA
just sits on the applications.
Once we allowed the DEA a chance to act in a
reasonable amount of time and they did not,
we filed our lawsuit based on the Commerce Clause
we prevail in our appeal, we will get a chance to go
to discovery with the DEA on the merits. The oral
arguments went well last week. From the
questioning, it appeared that the judges did
not buy the DEA's argument that the District
Court did not have jurisdiction. We believe
that we also made a strong case that the
District Court improperly concluded that hemp
contains psychoactive levels of THC. This information
part of the briefs on either side, and we argued
that the Court should have allowed discovery.
We expect to have a decision from the three-judge
panel within three to six months. We of course
will keep you updated.
Thanks for your continued interest and support.
|US Appeals Court Hears Arguments in ND Hemp Case
David Monson, left, Joe Sandler, right, and
Eric Steenstra, center. Photo credit: Jim
Mone / AP.
By Elizabeth Dunbar, AP
November 13, 2008
ST. PAUL, MN — An attorney for two
North Dakota farmers argued they should be
able to grow industrial hemp under state
regulations without fear of federal criminal
Attorney Joe Sandler told a panel of the 8th
U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday
that his clients' lawsuit against the federal
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) should move
forward so that the farmers might have a
chance to use their state permits to grow
hemp for seeds and oil. The lawsuit was
[earlier] dismissed in U.S. District Court.
At the heart of the dispute is whether the
farmers — state Rep. David Monson and
Wayne Hauge — can cultivate hemp under
North Dakota laws without violating the
federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
Hemp is related to the illegal drug
marijuana, and under the federal law, parts
of an industrial hemp plant are considered
|Panel Mulls Hemp Laws
L-R: Joe Sandler, Tim Purdon, David Monson
and Eric Steenstra. Photo credit: Vote Hemp.
By Don Davis
ST. PAUL, MN — A U.S. Appeals Court
panel is considering whether North Dakota law
trumps federal law when it comes to raising hemp.
Two North Dakota farmers want to grow hemp, a
close relative of illegal marijuana, but the
federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has
not granted them permission. The farmers sued
to get the permit, but a federal district
court threw out their suit.
The two sides argued the case Wednesday
before an Appeals Court panel in St. Paul. A
decision could come in weeks or months.
|Hemp: North Dakota Farmers Head to Federal Appeals Court
David Monson, center-left, Tim Purdon,
center-right, and Joe Sandler, right. Photo
credit: Vote Hemp.
Drug War Chronicle
November 14, 2008
A pair of North Dakota farmers who want to
be able to grow hemp were in the U.S. 8th Circuit
Court of Appeals in St. Paul, Minnesota on
Wednesday to argue their case. Farmers Wayne
Hauge and David Monson, who is also a
Republican state representative, applied to
grow hemp under North Dakota's hemp law but
have yet to receive a permit to do so from
the DEA. They filed suit in federal district
court in Bismarck last year, but lost at the
district court level.
The farmers and their attorneys, Joe Sandler
and Tim Purdon, are appealing on a number of
grounds, including the district court's
ruling that hemp and marijuana are the same.
The farmers argued that the scientific
evidence is clear that hemp is genetically
distinct from drug varieties of Cannabis and
that there are no psychoactive effects from
The DEA, which has jurisdiction over drug
scheduling decisions, does not recognize any
difference between hemp and marijuana. Under
current federal law, anyone who grows
industrial hemp for use in foods, lotions,
fuels, cloth and paper, among others, is
subject to prosecution under federal
marijuana cultivation statutes.
|Hemp Growers Take Case to Higher Authority
By James Walsh
November 12, 2008
Pot — or not pot. That seems to be the
Two North Dakota farmers on Wednesday took
their battle to grow industrial hemp to the
Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in St.
Paul, where their attorney argued that hemp
is so distinct from marijuana that it should
not be subject to federal regulation. At
stake, say hemp sellers and would-be farmers,
is a potentially booming commodity that would
help U.S. growers and consumers alike.
"I get real excited about it because of our
economic times. It's a crop that would be
very, very lucrative," said Lynn Gordon,
owner of French Meadow Bakery, who
attended oral arguments at the U.S.
Courthouse in St. Paul. French Meadow makes
Healthy Hemp bread, muffins and bagels
— all big sellers, Gordon said —
but must buy its hemp from Canada.
"I pay so much for it now," she said.
Federal law allows the import and sale of
non-drug hemp stalk, fiber, oil and seeds in
the U.S., saying it is separate from
marijuana. In fact, hemp is used in paper,
textiles, food and even fuel. But federal law
also lumps hemp and marijuana together
— they both are classified as
Cannabis sativa L. — when it
comes to growing the plants, making it almost
impossible for U.S. farmers to legally raise
Current Action Alert
here to send a letter urging your U.S.
Representative to co-sponsor HR 1009, the
"Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2007."
Please also click
here to contact President-elect Barack
Obama and his transition team and educate
them about agricultural hemp. Remember
to mention Vote Hemp and our various resources at
Support Vote Hemp