November 1, 2009-I am a fourth generation farmer, grandfather of three, and have never been arrested for anything. I traveled to Washington, D.C. to join hemp business leaders in a symbolic planting of hemp seeds on DEA headquarters’ front lawn. This action was taken to raise awareness of the distinction between industrial hemp and marijuana. Today non-dairy milks, protein powders, cereals, soaps and lotions are made from the nutritious omega 3 rich hemp seed, while everything from clothing to building materials to automobile paneling is made from hemp’s fiber and woody core.
Along with another North Dakota farmer and state Rep. David Monson, I am involved in a lawsuit against DEA, now in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, to prevent DEA interference with licensed North Dakota farmers cultivating and processing industrial hemp under North Dakota’s state industrial hemp program. However, it has been almost a year since the case was given to the judges to decide if states can act without federal government intervention.
I personally do not harbor a grudge nor have an agenda against the DEA, I have the greatest respect for those who serve our country, whether local police or members of the armed services who are now abroad. The DEA is carrying out its Bush-era mandate to not allow cannabis in the United States, just as any soldier given an order by a superior officer and I respect that. It is time, however, to change the order and make the international non-drug standard of 0.3% THC the point at which hemp cultivars of cannabis are under control and regulation by USDA as an agricultural crop.
The ideal immediate policy approach, similar to the recent medical cannabis directive from the Department of Justice (that oversees the DEA) directing DEA and US Attorneys to respect states’ medical cannabis laws, is for the DOJ to simply direct DEA to respect and not interfere with state industrial hemp programs.
Further, Congress should pass legislation allowing cultivation of industrial hemp under state industrial hemp programs. There is a hemp bill currently in the House of Representatives that has not yet been given a committee hearing because it needs more sponsors.
I recently sent a letter to my state’s representative asking why if our state has had such an overwhelming support for cultivation of industrial hemp by both Democrats and Republicans, as well as the Governor of North Dakota, that he has not co-sponsored that hemp farming bill. You too, regardless of the state you live in, should contact your state’s elected representatives to sponsor this hemp farming bill and communicate with the DOJ to change DEA policy.
Only when hemp is no longer deemed an illegal crop, can true R&D be done and American farmers catch up with the rest of the world. Imagine a house either built new or modified with hempcrete that is lighter yet stronger than traditional wood frame construction, or hemp blown-in insulation which resists pests and molds, and a wind generator in the back yard with blades made with hemp fibers, and your daughter who goes to her first school prom wearing a dress made of hemp. All this can be done now, but imagine the possibilities when hemp is free to be studied in universities across the US.
The time is now to change the order to DEA. Nine states have passed legislation supporting cultivation of industrial hemp. The people understand that hemp is simply a crop with great potential. Will hemp be grown on a million acres? Not the first couple years, but other countries are supplying the booming US market.
Do I have regrets for participating as one of the “Hemp Six” in ceremonially seeding hemp on DEA’s front lawn? No, I do not. I will, however, not do it again. Like I told my sons when they were growing up, “do a job right the first time.” A video available at Vote Hemp’s web site (www.VoteHemp.com) shows the action; Vote Hemp represents thousands of citizens, including farmers, businesses and consumers, who support re-commercializing of industrial hemp as a sustainable profitable rotation crop for American farmers. Vote Hemp sponsored my participation in this event and has paid for my legal expenses in the law suit against DEA.
As you sit reading this and nodding your head in general agreement, don’t put off contacting your state’s representatives to have Obama’s Department of Justice order DEA to stand down on actions against seeding industrial hemp in the United States.
(Wayne Hauge is a fourth generation farmer from North Dakota who grows barley, chickpeas, durum and lentils, and someday industrial hemp near Ray.)
Video from February 2008: