Hemp Producer? Plan Riles Feds' Suspicions

Hemp Producer? Plan Riles Feds' Suspicions
Posted by CN Staff on January 28, 2007 at 19:33:38 PT
By Chuck Haga, Star Tribune
Source: Star-Tribune 
Osnabrock, N.D. -- David Monson arrived at church the picture of rural conservative respectability, dressed in a suit and accompanied by his 79-year-old mother.Tall, neatly trimmed, attentive to neighbors as he escorted his mother to a pew, he is all you might expect and more: farmer, rural school superintendent, president of his Lutheran congregation, member of the Eagles, assistant Republican leader in the state House of Representatives.
He also is on the radar of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, a hero of High Times Magazine."He had to get fingerprinted," farmer Howard Hove said, laughing as he watched his friend mingle at church. "And a background check!"Monson, 56, wants to be the first U.S. farmer licensed to experiment with industrial hemp. Although it is a crop with a patriotic past, it is suspect now, guilty by association with its horticultural cousin, cannibis. Hemp has trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the substance that makes marijuana a drug, and since 1970, the DEA has classified hemp -- with marijuana and heroin -- as a controlled substance.Monson farms 25 miles from Canada, where hemp acreage has grown sixfold since 2004 as Canadian farmers have tapped into new and growing markets for the scraggly, fibrous plant, which is used to make clothing, textiles, diapers, footwear, foods and other products.Monson wants to try growing it as an alternative to traditional crops plagued by disease or depressed prices.The advocacy group Vote Hemp estimates the U.S. hemp products business at $270 million and growing. But that business -- including the Minneapolis-based French Meadow Bakery, with its nationally marketed hemp-seed bread -- now depends on seeds and stalks imported from Canada and Europe, where hemp was rehabilitated in the 1990s.Ten years ago, Monson won legislative approval for research into hemp's potential as a cash crop in North Dakota. In 1999, the Legislature adopted his resolution urging Congress to unhitch marijuana and hemp, and the state set up a grower application process.This month, Monson was the first to apply. "I had to go up to my sheriff's office and get fingerprinted," he said. "That cost $2. Then I had to pay $52 to the state agriculture commissioner and $150 to the attorney general for a background check."That wasn't bad, he said. But the federal fees total $3,400 and are nonrefundable, and there's no guarantee the DEA will accept the application.North Dakota's agriculture commissioner, Roger Johnson, has asked the DEA to waive fees for all farmers seeking a hemp license."We haven't heard back," Monson said. A Small Patch To StartMonson plans to raise hemp on only 10 acres at first, a demonstration crop, but under federal regulations, the acreage still must be completely fenced and reported by GPS coordinates. All hemp sales also must be reported."That's a per-acre cost of about $400, and that would be prohibitive," Monson said.Hemp used to be a legal and valued crop in the United States. George Washington sang its praises, and during World War II, the federal government promoted its cultivation for the production of rope and other wartime needs.That's cool, the DEA says, but the agency fears legal hemp could lead to legal marijuana. Also, growers could hide pot plants in hemp fields, complicating agents' efforts to find them, said Tom Riley, of the White House Office on National Drug Control Policy."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."Why is High Times Magazine so enthusiastic about hemp? Because they care about fiber?"Drug gangs already cultivate marijuana on remote public lands in California, Riley said."The last thing law-enforcement people need is for the cultivation of marijuana-looking plants to spread," he said. "Are we going to ask them to go through row by row, field by field, to distinguish between legal hemp and marijuana?"  Hemp in Minnesota?Kevin Edberg, former head of marketing for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, has tracked the status of industrial hemp for years and said there has been little movement recently to support its reintroduction here. But six other states have passed legislation and are poised to follow North Dakota's lead. California joined the parade last year, but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill.When Monson's first hemp bills came before the North Dakota Legislature, hemp advocates from California arrived in Bismarck to testify."They were mostly hippies," Monson said, smiling. "But some had roots in North Dakota, and they did a great job."He endured teasing: Was his farm going to pot? How was his weed control? But his neighbors and legislative colleagues understand that hemp could help save farms, he said, and that could sustain towns, schools, Main Street shops and churches."In '93, we started having trouble with 'scab' in our wheat and barley, and it devastated us," Monson said. "Besides giving us another crop, this could mean new industry and jobs." Rope, Not DopeJerry Lykken, handing out church bulletins last week, said he would consider adding hemp to his wheat, canola and corn."I usually try all the new crops," he said.So might Hove, although "it's kind of spendy to get into it, with the fees and all," he said.James Robertson is skeptical, too. "I've seen them harvest hemp in Canada," the Osnabrock farmer said. "I've seen how tall it grows, up to eight or nine feet, and how lush it grows, making it a challenge to harvest. I think I'll let someone else try it first."That could be his friend Monson, who probably hasn't heard the last joke."If it looks like marijuana, Dave might come home one night and find an acre missing," Robertson said, laughing. "Fence or no fence."Staff writer Bob von Sternberg contributed to this report.Note: N.D. farmer says he is only looking for a new cash crop.Complete Title: Industrial Hemp Producer? Plan Riles Feds' SuspicionsSource: Minneapolis Star-Tribune (MN) Author: Chuck Haga, Star TribunePublished: January 28, 2007 Copyright: 2007 Star Tribune Contact: opinion Website: Related Articles: AP Story Proves Value of Hemp Farming Aims To Become Licensed Hemp Farmer
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Comment #8 posted by Max Flowers on January 30, 2007 at 10:59:18 PT
The male hemp plants would pollinate and completely ruin the "hidden pot", turning it into seedy shwag. I think the feds know this very well, but pretend they don't because it better serves their overall agenda. They don't care that they're denying America a wonderfully profitable agricultural promise---as long as they can keep enriching themselves with their drug war dollars.
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Comment #7 posted by runderwo on January 30, 2007 at 07:15:50 PT
DEA is funny as usual.What happens when you hide pot plants in a hemp field?Well, first of all, the Hemp does not increase in potency. Something quite the opposite happens. Only random mutation and careful breeding can increase the potency of hemp to a point where it can be deemed marijuana.It also doesn't lead to the de facto legalization of marijuana. "Officer, that baggie and pipe is mine, and it's HEMP so give it back!" Riiight...
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Comment #6 posted by doc james on January 30, 2007 at 06:57:11 PT
Only a fool
would attempt to grow dakine, amongst a mass of seed producing hemp plants. As the dea tells it, "growers could hide pot plants in hemp fields, complicating agents' efforts to find them, said Tom Riley, of the White House Office on National Drug Control Policy." Tom Riley is the fool. So is the dea and all their ilk.
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Comment #5 posted by Matt Stover on January 29, 2007 at 14:47:36 PT
Why High Times Favors Hemp
High Times favors hemp, as the White House lamented upon, because it compels America's History Professors to learn what they should have kept at the core of their curriculas, yet never learned, themselves - and WHY: WHO PROFITS from Cannabis Sativa Prohibition and HOW.Hemp truths throw virtually all of history teachers out on their ears - and the facts scream for a new curricula, about how America has been duped for 70+ years by synthetic industry conglomerates.The day when history teachers give - and receive - lessons on what our nation was founded with and built and run on, until 1937 - is the day when they begin to replace the pot users, in prison, with their own, criminally-neglectful selves. SHAME on our whole contemporary History Teaching Profession! Hemp paper-and-ink History Textbooks, for all! Hemp For Victory!
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Comment #4 posted by Sinsemilla Jones on January 29, 2007 at 14:20:42 PT
If a farmer found oil on his farm...
the government wouldn't be creating obstacles to pumpimg it out.In fact, I'm sure all sorts of corporate and government folks would be helping the farmer get that oil to market.And nobody would even mention anything about kids huffing gasoline.
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Comment #3 posted by Hope on January 29, 2007 at 12:14:09 PT
I'm glad you want us to watch our language here. If it weren't for that, I could be reduced to just cussing.
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Comment #2 posted by mayan on January 29, 2007 at 00:15:01 PT
The gov't is just as scared of the people finding out what hemp can do as they are of what hemp can do. As the masses are realizing just why they have been lied to about all cannabis (recreational,medicinal, and industrial) they are beginning to question everything else under the sun. The fascist's attempt to roll back the clock to the 1950's with 9/11 is coming head to head with the inevitable future which it sought to avoid. The paradigm simply wants to shift and all of the kings men can't hold it back. SHADOW OF THE SWASTIKA: The Real Reason the Government Won't Debate Medical Cannabis and Industrial Hemp Re-legalization:
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Comment #1 posted by The GCW on January 28, 2007 at 20:47:07 PT
HThe next time SWATSTIKA hits the wrong house it may (may it) be the DEA's.EFrench Meadow Bakery hemp bread is good; have some in the fridge right now. Great with uncured salami, parmesan, kalamata olives and tomatoe.MAnyone heard about CT-3 lately?P
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