First Hemp Licenses Issued

First Hemp Licenses Issued
Posted by CN Staff on February 07, 2007 at 06:28:59 PT
By Blake Nicholson, Associated Press
Source: Bismarck Tribune
N.D. -- North Dakota officials have issued the nation's first licenses to grow industrial hemp, though they do not guarantee that farmers will actually be able to grow the crop. Farmers Dave Monson and Wayne Hauge, who got the state licenses Tuesday, still must meet federal requirements before they can plant their fields. The Drug Enforcement Administration requires a $2,293 annual registration fee, which is nonrefundable even if the agency does not grant a farmer permission to grow hemp.
"It's taken us a lot longer than (expected) to get here, and I'm thinking we still have a ways to go," said Monson, of Osnabrock, who first became interested in growing industrial hemp 10 years ago.The North Dakota Agriculture Department approved rules late last year for the production of hemp, a cousin of marijuana that can be used to make everything from paper to lotion.Several states have authorized industrial hemp farming, but North Dakota is the first to grant commercial hemp farming licenses, according to the hemp advocacy group Vote Hemp. A bill in the Legislature also would give the state regulatory authority over hemp processors.North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson in late December asked the DEA to waive its registration fee and also allow the state to regulate hemp farming within its borders, but federal officials rejected that request.Joseph Rannazzisi, a deputy assistant administrator with the DEA, said federal law does not allow the agency to delegate its ability to regulate hemp to state officials. Although the DEA may waive registration requirements, it has done so only for law enforcement officers and other officials, he said.Johnson said he is frustrated that the DEA makes no distinction between marijuana and hemp."There's something rather ludicrous to have to register as someone who wants to grow marijuana," he said.The North Dakota House is considering a resolution that urges Congress to direct the DEA to differentiate between industrial hemp and marijuana. Another resolution urges Congress to facilitate the legal growing of hemp.Monson, who is the state House's assistant Republican majority leader, and Hauge, a farmer from Ray, said they will pay the federal fee.Johnson said he will deliver the registration applications when he meets with DEA officials in Washington, D.C., early next week to try again to persuade them to relax what he called an unreasonable federal fee requirement.The state licenses issued Tuesday are "about trying to demonstrate that it can be done ... to prove a point, that this is a viable industry and we should be able to participate in it," Johnson said.To get a state license, farmers must pay a fee of $5 per acre, with a minimum of $150, along with $52 to cover the costs of fingerprinting and a criminal background check. They also must provide coordinates for their fields, and make them available at any time to state inspections.Johnson said that task can be handled by existing inspectors who monitor everything from pesticides to weeds, and would be a minor expense for the Agriculture Department unless the number of hemp farmers grows significantly.The department currently is processing 16 other hemp-growing applications from farmers, he said.Johnson said asking Congress to take action if the DEA will not change its position is a possibility, but he does not favor that option."DEA has the authority to do what we're asking them to do," he said. "Asking Congress to tell DEA to exercise the authority they already have - that's not a good argument to make."The resolutions are HCR3042 and HCR3028.The bill is SB2099.Source: Bismarck Tribune (ND)Author: Blake Nicholson, Associated PressPublished: February 7, 2007Copyright: 2007 The Bismarck TribuneWebsite: http://www.bismarcktribune.comContact: Articles & Web Site:Vote Hemp Story Proves Value of Hemp Farming Aims To Become Licensed Hemp Farmer Asks DEA To Waive Hemp Registration Fees
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on February 07, 2007 at 06:52:08 PT
Related Article: Licensees Have Different Plans
By Blake Nicholson, Associated Press
 February 7, 2007N.D. -- The first two North Dakota farmers to be licensed to grow industrial hemp have different plans for their future crops, assuming the federal government allows them to be cultivated.Dave Monson, of Osnabrock, in northeastern North Dakota, and Wayne Hauge, of Ray, in the northwestern corner of the state, on Tuesday received the first two licenses issued under new state rules for growing the crop.Hemp can be used to make numerous products, from food to clothing, and Monson said he has received calls from potential buyers as far away as Taiwan. Monson, who also is a state lawmaker, wants to sell both hemp seed and fiber. "I hope to capitalize on every part of (the plant)," he said. "There will be no problem finding a market."Hauge said he wants to grow and sell registered hemp seed to other farmers."I think it's a viable crop," he said. "I think it would work well in rotations in both eastern and western North Dakota."Hemp is a cousin of marijuana and falls under federal anti-drug rules, even though it does not produce a high. That means farmers licensed by North Dakota to grow hemp must also obtain approval from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, which is not certain.The annual federal registration fee is $2,293. Monson said the federal fee to import seed from Canada, where hemp is legally grown, would be an additional $1,147, though he and state Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson said one person could import seed for several farmers.The state license costs a minimum of $202. Monson said with licensing, registration and seed expenses, "before you even get out of the chute you're looking at $400 an acre (in costs)."Hemp still can be profitable, Monson said."You're looking at $500 an acre for seed and whatever you can get for fiber ... $100 per acre for straw would be realistic," he said. Organically grown hemp could fetch as much as $900 per acre, Monson said.If he gets federal permission, Monson plans to seed 10 acres of industrial hemp this spring to "test the waters." Hauge plans to grow 100 acres.Both farmers also grow other crops, including the more traditional wheat and barley. Monson also grows canola, and Hauge last year experimented with black beans.Neither farmer plans to build a fence around his hemp field. A fence is not part of the state licensing requirements, though one would be needed under federal rules."They have this additional crazy requirement that is designed for drugs," Johnson said. "Chain-link, razor-wire topped, 10 to 12 feet high, 24-hour surveillance."Johnson has urged the DEA to ease its rules, and plans to meet with officials in Washington, D.C., again early next week to "request that they work in every way possible with us."Law enforcement officials worry that industrial hemp crops could shield stands of illegal marijuana. Supporters of legalizing hemp cultivation say that fear is unfounded.In a related development, the North Dakota House on Tuesday approved legislation that gives North Dakota State University the authority to import and resell industrial hemp seed. The bill now goes to the Senate.The bill is HB1490.Copyright: 2007 The Bismarck Tribune
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