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Hemp News

Oregon Hemp Bill Gets Governor's OK

As Common Sense for Drug Policy previously reported, Oregonian lawmakers passed a bill to legalize the production, possession, and commercialization of industrial hemp and related products with a veto-proof margin in early June of 2009. As the Drug War Chronicle reports in its August 13, 2009 edition ("Oregon Governor Signs [Hemp] Farming Bill Into Law"), however, legislators no longer need worry about the status of their bill. As the Chronicle states, "Oregon became the 17th state to pass legislation favorable to hemp farming and the ninth state to remove legal barriers to farming the potentially lucrative crop [when] Gov. Ted Kulongoski (D) last week signed into law SB 676," which "removes all obstacles to growing hemp for food, fiber, and other industrial purposes" even though "[i]ndustrial hemp production remains prohibited under federal law."

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Hempfest 2009

Although this year's Hempfest didn't boast quite as many attendees as the nearly 20-year-old, Seattle-based festival's last annual gathering (approximately 300,000 people attended in 2008, while over 100,000 people attended in 2009), the "world's largest annual gathering in support of decriminalizing marijuana" went off without a hitch and, according to an August 16 Examiner report, attracted many attendees who "were far from your average stoner" ("Marijuana 101: Is Seattle Hempfest the World's Largest Marajuana [sic] Decriminalization Gathering?"). Among those in attendance were "travel guru" Rick Steeves, actor Woody Harrelson, former Seattle police major (and current LEAP member) Norm Stamper, and Common Sense for Drug Policy's own Doug McVay.

The festival has come a long way since its origination in 1991. As the Examiner article states, Hempfest began "as the Washington [state] Hemp Expo" and was "attended by about 500 self-described 'stoners.'" As previously mentioned, the festival now ranks as the biggest gathering of its kind. Hempfest "includes many music stages and vendors," but "arrests for smoking marijuana do not happen in this peaceful crowd setting where many celebrities" and other drug policy reform advocates "come to voice their opinions." Aside from its brief write-up of the festival, the Examiner posting contains a powerful proclamation regarding both marijuana decriminalization in general and Hempfest's message. As its author L. Steven Sieden writes, "Hempfest proves that 'we the people' need to take control of our government and decriminalize this natural substance. Smoking marijuana on a daily basis [may] not [be] something a young person should aspire to, but marijuana can be used as a responsible medical treatment. Recreationally, it is also far less harmful than alcohol, and the potential for tax revenue are huge." Indeed.

The article also provides readres with two embedded videos from the festival. If you're in the Seattle area next year, this event certainly merits your participation.

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Capitol Police Confiscate Vote Hemp's Presentation Samples, Advocacy Group Demands Their Return, an Apology, and a Chance to Clear Up Confusion

Ben Droz, a legislative assistant for advocacy group Vote Hemp brought "samples of industrial hemp fibers" - along with seeds, hemp hurd, and hemp-made cinder block - to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. for use during "a scheduled presentation to congressional staffers on the Hill," during which he planned to discuss the differences between hemp and psychoactive marijuana and the many uses hemp offers to commodity producers. However, as NBC Washington reports in an August 13, 2009 article, "Capitol police seized his samples [...] on Monday at a Rayburn Building checkpoint" ("Dude, Where's My Hemp?"). According to Droz, "officers took the seeds because no food is allowed in the Capitol," but they "wouldn't return the fiber, even though they knew it was 'just hemp'" and not marijuana. Although Capitol Police eventually "gave back the [cinder] block and the hurd," they "refused to return the fiber."

However, Vote Hemp won't take the confiscation lying down. As the article states, the group told reporters that "We hope for the return of Vote Hemp's property, an apology, and perhaps, a Capitol Hill beer summit or Congressional hearings to discuss our differences with the Drug Enforcement Administration." Their demands seem particularly fair in light of the context in which the materials were seized. The scorned activist cited the incident as "an example of the confusion between industrial hemp and marijuana, a 'distant cousin also from the Cannabis family.'" As Droz told the news outlet, "It's ironic that the very items I was using to clear up confusion [regarding hemp and marijuana] became the subject of contraband and were confiscated."

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Industrial Hemp Bill Heads to Oregon Governor's Desk

Oregon is well on its way to "allowing production, possession, and commercialization of industrial hemp and its products," the Drug War Chronicle reported in its July 3, 2009 edition ("Industrial Hemp: Bill Passes Oregon Legislature, Heads for Governor's Desk"). The measure, SB676, passed "by a veto-proof margin of 46-11." Thus, although proponents feel "confident [that] Gov. Ted Kulongoski (D) w[ill] sign the bill," Oregon will still "become the ninth state to authorize industrial hemp production under state law" whether its executive branch agrees with the measure or not.

Industrial hemp production remains illegal under federal law, but Oregonian supporters of the hemp industry reported feeling satisfied with their statewide victory. As "bill sponsor Sen. Floyd Prozanski" told the Chronicle, "I am glad that Oregon has joined the list of states that have agreed that American farmers should have the right to reintroduce industrial hemp as an agricultural crop."

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Hemp Farming Legislation Introduced in House

In early April of 2009, U.S. Representatives Barney Frank (D-MA) and Ron Paul (R-TX) introduced a federal bill seeking "to remove restrictions on the cultivation of non-psychoactive industrial hemp," as an April 3 Drug War Chronicle feature noted based on a press release from the organization Vote Hemp ("Representatives Barney Frank and Ron Paul Introduce Hemp Farming Legislation"). The bill, dubbed "The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009," boasts nine bipartisan co-sponsors as well as "strong support among key national organizations [that advocate for] change in the federal government's position on hemp." Moreover, states like Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia have ushered through similar proposals in recent years. If passed, Frank and Paul's bill would "remove federal barriers and allow laws in these states regulating the growing and processing of industrial hemp to take effect."

For more information, read Vote Hemp's informative press release via the link above.

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Australian State of New South Wales Legalizes Hemp Production

As Australia's Sydney Morning Herald reported on November 20, 2008 ("High Hopes for Cannabis"), "After years of debate, the State Government [of New South Wales] has approved large-scale hemp farming and will consider licence applications under a new scheme." New South Wales police will utilize the "licensing system [...] to prevent industrial hemp being grown to camouflage illegal crops of marijuana." Growers will also be &qout;audited and inspected regularly" and can produce only "police-approved cannabis varieties[, which] all have low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, the compound people smoke to get high." By legalizing hemp production, Australian manufacturers can begin using "the fibrous stems [...] in clothing, cosmetics, livestock and animal feeds, and building materials."

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North Dakotan Farmers Take Hemp Case to Court

After they lost their federal suit in district court in 2007, two farmers - Wayne Hauge and Republican state representative David Monson - who want to grow hemp in North Dakota (against the DEA's wishes) appealed the decision in the US 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, located in St. Paul, Minnesota, as a feature in the November 14, 2008 Drug War Chronicle reports ("North Dakota Farmers Head to Federal Appeals Court"). The farmers "applied to grow hemp under North Dakota's hemp law but have yet to receive a permit to do so from the DEA;" the Administration's refusal to act upon their request for a growing permit constituted the basis for both their initial suit and the farmers' appeal.

The Justice Department, with which Hauge and Monson went head-to-head, essentially argued that "state law cannot override federal law" and that the power given to Congress by the Constitution "to regulate commerce between states [...] is the basis of federal drug laws," which do not "recognize any [legal] difference[s] between marijuana and hemp." The Chronicle quotes Melissa Patterson, an attorney for the Justice Department, as having stated that "What states do cannot expand or contract Congress's interstate [commerce] regulation powers." However, Joe Sandler and Tim Purdon, who represented the farmers in their appeal, "retorted that that was not the question before the court." As he stated, "The question here is whether the mere existence of a plant can affect interstate commerce." In fact, the attorneys were "appealing on a number of grounds, including the district court's ruling that hemp and marijuana are the same." Additionally, the plaintiffs "argued that North Dakota's [hemp] law is so strict that their hemp could not be converted into psychoactive marijuana and that the state's monitoring of hemp fields would prevent illicit marijuana cultivation."

The court's decision is still pending, but hemp advocates and other drug policy reformers have a decent stake in this case. Hauge and Monson's suit concerns not only questions pertaining to contradictory state and federal law but also the DEA's unwillingness to recognize a legitimate difference between psychoactive cannabis and hemp plants and its frequent refusals act upon petitions with which it disagrees. Moreover, hemp represents a viable and environmentally friendly alternative to many products or ingredients on which Americans rely daily, and any attempt to expand hemp cultivation for such uses should be applauded by reform activists across the country.

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Hemp Emerges As Connections Between Agricultural and Manufacturing Sectors Strengthen

Once the connections are bridged between agricultural and manufacturing sectors, hemp will be a viable choice to create financial opportunities for farmers. According to The Community Press August 21, 2008 article,("Hemp: The New Choice For Farmers-And It's Legal") "John Baker, president and founder of Stonehedge Bio-Resources Inc., said Eastern Ontario has the ideal climate and soil to grow hemp crops.'This crop has potential to be a good reward to the agriculture sector,' Baker said. 'It's just the perfect environment for growing hemp."

The article states, "Baker has licences for 19 hemp fields with the majority located in Hastings and Northumberland counties. He currently is researching the plant to determine its use as a biomass. According to his findings, hemp could be a leader in a growing environmentally friendly economy. Baker believes hemp products will result in profits for farmers and producers of materials, and benefit the consumer. Hemp can be used to make bio-masonry and bio-plastic products as well as food supplements and textiles. 'There are hundreds of uses,' Baker said. 'They are already using it in Europe. It is just a matter of bringing it here and actually doing it.' BMW and Mercedes have started using hemp as insulation in their automobiles."

The article adds, "In my first couple of years, they probably stole two acres from a 10- acre site,' Baker said. Growing hemp in Canada is legal, but regulated. It requires a licence from Health Canada and is controlled by the Bureau of Drug Surveillance. Plants must have less than 0.3 per cent THC and they are regularly tested. 'The worry is hemp will be used as a blind for other plant material,' Baker said. While hemp farmers have to find their way through a maze of regulations, laws in other countries can be used to Canada's advantage. 'That same barrier is what's keeping the Americans out of the market,' Baker said. The American Drug Enforcement Agency has its foot firmly in the soil against U.S. farmers producing hemp, leaving manufacturers south of the border looking for a source of the plant's products."

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Victory At Last: Bush Administration Punts Hemp Food Case, 9th Circuit Ruling Stands

The Bush Administration decided to not pursue its attempt at banning hemp in food products, industry spokespeople announced on Sept. 28, 2004 ( "Hemp Food Final Victory!"). According to the news release from VoteHemp, ""The mandate of the Ninth Circuit is final and their decision will now be the law of the land," said Joseph Sandler, lead attorney for the Hemp Industries Association (HIA)."

The release continues:
""Removing the cloud the DEA put into the marketplace will spur a dramatic surge in the supply and consumption of healthy omega-3 rich hemp seed in America," says David Bronner, Chair of the HIA's Food and Oil Committee and President of Alpsnack/Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps. "This is a huge victory for the hemp industry. The Bush Administration decision not to appeal the Ninth Circuit's decision from earlier this year means the three-year-old legal battle over hemp seed products is finally over. The three-judge panel in the Ninth Circuit unanimously ruled that the DEA ignored the specific Congressional exemption in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) that excludes hemp fiber, seed and oil from control along with poppy seeds. The Court viewed as insignificant and irrelevant harmless trace amounts of THC in hemp seed, just like harmless trace amounts of opiates in poppy seeds."
""More and more health foods containing omega-3 rich hemp nut and oil will be appearing on store shelves since the legal status is no longer an issue," says Alexis Baden-Mayer, Director of Government Affairs for Vote Hemp. "Americans are looking for healthy alternative sources of omega-3 to supplement their diets due to concerns regarding trace mercury in fish and fish oil supplements. Right now the U.S. marketplace is supplied by hemp seed grown and processed in Canada and Europe. We will now work to convince Congress it is time for the U.S. to again allow American farmers to grow industrial hemp and participate in this lucrative growth market."
"Eric Steenstra, Executive Director of Vote Hemp, along with Patrick Goggin, local counsel for the HIA, expressed anger at the colossal waste of industry and taxpayer resources consumed in the three-year legal battle over hemp waffles and other healthy hemp foods. "The industry should have been focused on marketplace promotion and consumer education rather than flushing over $200,000 down the drain battling pointless DEA hysteria," says Steenstra."

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Federal Court Overturns DEA Hemp Food Ban

Hemp industry representatives and supporters were elated by a federal court decision in early Feb. 2004 which rejected the US Drug Enforcement Administration's attempt to ban hemp-containing foods. The Washington Post reported on Feb. 7, 2004 ( "Appeals Court Limits Ban On Hemp Products") that "Federal drug police don't have the authority to take hemp food products off the market, a federal appeals court ruled yesterday. A unanimous three judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco said the Drug Enforcement Administration cannot regulate hemp in food because such 'non-psychoactive hemp products' are not included in its list of dangerous drugs."

According to the Post, "Industry officials are planning new sales. 'This ruling is really going to blow things open, really open up the marketplace,' said David Bronner, who as chairman of the trade association's food and oil committee, led the legal battle against DEA. Bronner said he is working on how his firm, Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, could sell its latest product, a nutrition bar containing hemp nuts. The dispute with DEA has probably helped increase sales of hemp foods, officials said. Two years ago, they accounted for about $5 million in sales; today, their sales range between $7 million and $10 million, Bronner said."

The Associated Press, in its Feb. 6, 2004 story on the decision ( "Appeals Court Rejects DEA Bid To Outlaw Hemp Foods"), reported that "On Friday, the court said that though the DEA has regulatory authority over marijuana and synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the agency did not follow the law in asserting authority over all hemp food products as well. 'They cannot regulate naturally-occuring THC not contained within or derived from marijuana,' the court ruled, noting it's not possible to get high from products with only trace amounts of the mind-altering chemical. Hemp is an industrial plant related to marijuana. Fiber from the plant long has been used to make paper, clothing, rope and other products. Its oil is found in body-care products such as lotion, soap and cosmetics and in a host of foods, including energy bars, waffles, milk-free cheese, veggie burgers and bread. Last April, DEA attorney Daniel Dormont argued for the ban, telling the three-judge appeals panel that 'there's no way of knowing' whether some food made with hemp could get consumers high. Hemp food sellers say their products are full of nutrition, not drugs. They say the food contains such a small amount of the active ingredient in marijuana that it's impossible to get high."

The case is Hemp Industries Association v. Drug Enforcement Administration, case number 01-71662.

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West Virginia Legislature Set To Approve Hemp

Legislation to approve hemp production is near final passage in the state of West Virginia. The Charleston Daily Mail reported on March 5, 2002 ( "Hemp Bill Questions Remain") that "The House Judiciary Committee voted Monday to advance the bill. It has already been approved by the Senate. The legislation would allow farmers to grow industrial hemp for use in products like clothing, rope, paper, bath products and car dashboards." Lead sponsor of the bill Sen. Karen Facemyer, R-Jackson, says that "'This is probably one of the biggest economic development packages we have in front of us this year,' she said."

"The law's opponents point out that federal rules may make hemp production difficult. The Daily Mail noted that "But even if it becomes law, West Virginians might not be able to grow the marijuana-like plant without breaking the law, said Bill Steffick of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration." Unfortunately Mr. Steffic was unable to answer many of the Daily Mail's questions. As the paper reported, "'I would imagine that a lot of this -- as long as we don't get involved with the human consumption issue -- a lot of this will resolve itself,' Steffick said about growing industrial hemp. What's the bottom line? Is it legal to grow, manufacture, buy or sell industrial hemp that is not for human consumption? 'You have some questions there that I basically can't answer because this is just an area that there's going to have to be some more discussion on this,' Steffick said. He referred further questions to his agency's Washington headquarters. No representative from that office was available for comment Monday afternoon."

The West Virginians have the experience of Hawaii to draw upon. As the Daily Mail reported, "Hawaii passed legislation in 1999 similar to what West Virginia is now considering. The state is finding out first hand how the Drug Enforcement Administration treats industrial hemp cultivation. A single, privately funded, experimental plot of the crop is growing in the Aloha State, said a legislative analyst for Hawaii State Representative Cynthia Thielen, a proponent of the state's industrial hemp project. The crop is being cultivated by academic researchers at an undisclosed location, surrounded by barbed wire and protected by a security system, Melody Heidel said. She said the bill approved by the Hawaii state legislation to legalize the test plot is going to expire soon. Hawaii's Legislature is considering legislation that would extend the deadline. 'Part of the issue is that three years really is not enough time agriculturally to have really accurate results,' Heidel said. Despite the obstacles, Heidel was optimistic about hemp's prospects in Hawaii. This year's legislation will likely pass, she said."

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Hemp Activists, Industry Leaders, And Policy Reformers Protest DEA Rule Banning Hemp Foods

Drug reform activists along with leaders of the US hemp industry held actions to protest a federal rule by the US Drug Enforcement Administration which prohibits use of hemp in food products (for more information on the rule, see below). Demonstrators held 'Taste Tests' at DEA offices and other federal buildings around the country, including New York City, Philadelphia, Hartford, CT, and DEA headquarters in Arlington, VA. As the Hartford Courant reported on Dec. 11, 2001 ( "Let Them Eat Hemp?"), "Opponents of the proposal say the hemp part of the cannabis plant contains so little THC that it would be virtually impossible to get high off any product that uses it. Haley (Booth Haley, Wesleyan University Students for Sensible Drug Policy) said banning hemp products based on their level of THC is like banning poppy seeds for their trace amounts of opiates. Many speculate that the new interpretation is due to the complications hemp products cause in drug testing. Often, people who test positive for marijuana claim they had recently ingested a hemp food product. The DEA says that it is simply staying consistent in regard to its drug laws. Hemp products on the market include pasta, waffles, bread, snack bars and hemp nut butter, which are sold at several health food stores in the state."

The DEA's ban covers a wide variety of products, as the Madison, WI Shepherd Express noted on Dec. 6, 2001 ( "Hemp Food Ban Hits Here"):
"Products on the market that the DEA says are affected by the action include some beers, cheeses, coffees, corn chips, energy drinks, flours, ice creams, snack bars, salad oils, sodas and veggie burgers. Manufacturers say that there is no measurable THC content in these foods under tests available when Congress passed the Controlled Substances Act. Suppliers say hemp is used in food products because the seeds are a high-quality source of protein, and the hemp seed oil contains a variety of heart-healthy essential fatty acids not found in other food products. 'Our industry is seeing industrial hemp take off,' says David Bronner, whose family uses hemp to make Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps."

Several columns and other articles questioning the DEA's actions have appeared, including "White House Watch: A New Age Of Reefer Madness" by Ann McFeatters of the Toledo Blade, and "Seeds Of Discord" by Jacob Sullum in Reason Magazine. For more information on the hemp foods ban, and on hemp products generally, check out these websites:
Hemp Food Industries Association
Vote Hemp
Students For Sensible Drug Policy

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Bill Introduced In UK Parliament To Allow Farmers To Cultivate Hemp

A private member's bill has been introduced in the UK House of Commons which would allow for cultivation of cannabis for hemp. According to the London Independent on Oct. 18, 2001 ( "'Let Beleagured Farmers Grow Cannabis'"), "Jon Owen Jones said the measure would 'remove criminals from the equation' and could provide a 'hardy cash crop' for British farmers, left on their knees by foot-and-mouth disease, BSE, tumbling dairy prices and concerns over GM crops. The Cardiff Central MP's Legalisation of Cannabis Bill is due to be debated in the House of Commons next week, but is highly unlikely to become law."

According to the Independent:
"The Bill would legalise the personal cultivation of cannabis and its use for therapeutic and recreational purposes. A Government licensing system would als be set up for commercial cultivation of cannabis and for international trade in the drug.
"Mr Jones said: 'All over the world it is becoming clear that cannabis use is a fact of life and trying to deal with it through the criminal justice system is absurd. Legalisation is the most rational way forward.'
"The Bill, drafted in conjunction with the civil rights group Liberty, is backed by MPs from all three main political parties.
"Mark Littlewood, director of campaigns at Liberty, said: 'The public don't want our police force frittering their energies over a victimless 'crime' like cannabis use."

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DEA Issues Rule Banning Some Hemp Products; Advocates, Merchants Will Seek Restraining Order

The Drug Enforcement Administration has issued its final rule banning certain hemp products. As the Honolulu Advertiser reported on Oct. 10, 2001 ( "DEA Rules Ban Edible Hemp Products"), "The rules by the Drug Enforcement Administration, published in the Federal Register, give merchants 120 days to dispose of food products such as beer, pasta, tortilla chips, candy bars, salad dressing and cheese when the items contain tetrahydrocannabinols, known as THC. Exemptions apply to products such as paper, animal feed, clothing and rope, and personal-care items such as shampoos, soaps and lotions."

"Supporters of industrial hemp say they will pursue a temporary restraining order and other legal action to halt implementation" of the rules," the Advertiser reported. "Although Kathy Barr, owner of the Hemp House in Pa'ia, Maui, apparently will be able to continue manufacturing a popular line of hemp-based lotions, she said she was shocked by the DEA ruling on food products. 'I never thought they would do it. I thought they had some understanding that you don't get high from the product and it's wonderful for you,' she said."

The Hemp Foods Industry Association has the text for the three rules on hemp products which the DEA published in the Federal Register on Oct. 9 on their website. Click the links below to view:
RULES
Schedules of controlled substances:
Cannabis plant; certain derived industrial products and materials; control exemption, 51538-51544 (01-25024)
Tetrahydrocannabinols; placement into Schedule I Interpretation, 51529-51534 (01-25022)
PROPOSED RULES
Schedules of controlled substances:
Tetrahydrocannabinols; placement into Schedule I Clarification, 51534-51538 (01-25023)

In addition to their US website, the HFIA also has this site targeting Australian representatives. The Federal Register can be accessed directly by clicking here. The table of contents for the date of publication, Oct. 9, can be accessed by clicking here, just scroll down to the section on DEA rules. The DEA's press advisory on the rules can be accessed by clicking here .

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US Invades Reservation Land, Destroys Hemp Crop

The US Drug Enforcement Administration, for the second year in a row, seized and destroyed hemp from fields being cultivated by the White Plume family on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. As the Lakota Nation Journal reported on August 2, 2001 ( "White Plume Hemp Crop Destroyed Again"), "Alex White Plume had to watch his tiospaye's hemp crop cut down by federal agents on Monday, July 30 for the second time. US Attorney Michelle Tapken reacted quickly to the letter from Oglala Sioux Tribal President John Steele ordering federal law enforcement officers to have no further contact with tribal members regarding the cultivation of industrial hemp." No arrests were made, and in fact "A letter attached to the consent to search document guaranteed White Plume immunity from criminal prosecution based on evidence seized by Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents .... The grant of use immunity was conditioned upon White Plume not planting or cultivating any such crop in the future without the authority of an order from the United States District Court."

The DEA raid has raised a number of legal issues, as the Journal reports: "Several legal questions remain unresolved. The first is whether industrial hemp is covered under the Controlled Substances Act. The second is, even if the industrial form of hemp is a controlled substance, does the Controlled Substances Act give federal agents jurisdiction over its growth in Indian country?" This is of particular concern because Oglala Sioux tribal law allows tribal members to grow hemp. "On the 28th day of July, 1998 the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council adopted Tribal Ordinance 98-27 which authorizes tribal members to grow industrial hemp as a cash crop on reservation land. The ordinance notes that today industrial hemp is a profitable international commodity that is grown legally in more than thirty countries including Canada, France, Germany, England, Russia, China and Australia. The ordinance further states that both the tribe and the United States government acknowledge that the tribe retains the right to grow food and fiber crops from the soil under the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868. The tribe also has a retained treaty right to engage in agriculture. The ordinance says also 'industrial hemp was a viable and profitable crop grown in the Pine Ridge region when the treaties were entered into between the United States and the Oglala Sioux Tribe.'"

As the Journal noted, this is the second year in a row that DEA has invaded sovereign reservation land to eradicate a hemp crop. "Under Ordinance 98-27 White Plume, along with members of his tiospaye, Wa Cin Hin Ska, planted a one and a half acre field of industrial hemp along the banks of Wounded Knee Creek in early May 2000. White Plume invited U.S. Attorney Ted McBride and BIA Superintendent Bob Ecoffey to the planting. Neither Ecoffey nor McBride accepted the invitation. Nearly four months later under the auspices of the Controlled Substances Act, early in the morning on August 24, armed DEA agents and FBI officers cut down White Plume's hemp crop. Twenty-five federal agents wearing bulletproof vests surrounded the field while two small-engine planes and one helicopter flew reconnaissance overhead. By 8:30 a.m. the agents had confiscated virtually all the hemp crop."

This year's raid at least was conducted less dramatically. As Indian Country Today reported on August 10, 2001 ( "White Plumes Relinquish Hemp Crop"), "Unlike last year's surprise dawn raid conducted by flak-jacketed agents toting semi-automatic rifles, this operation was more casual. This time the agents wore T-shirts and jeans or golf shirts and khaki slacks and, though they were armed, the weapons were side arms discreetly strapped to belts and thigh holsters. But it was no less financially and emotionally devastating for the White Plumes. At one point tears welled up in Alex White Plume's eyes and he whispered, 'I told the plants to be brave and strong and come back again next year.' The veneer of civility did nothing to ease the frustration and anger of the Lakota people over what they believe is an unjust suppression of their sovereignty and their treaty-given rights to establish hemp as an agricultural cash crop."

For more information on this continuing, controversial story, check out this portion of the Natives Unite website devoted to the hemp issue.

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Federal Agency Prepares Rules To Ban Hemp Products in US

Hemp is a growing issue in farm states around the country. In Kentucky for example, the House Agriculture and Small Business Committee approved a hemp bill in early 2001. The Louisville (KY) Courier-Journal reported, "'There's no question we can successfully raise this product,' Agriculture Commissioner Billy Ray Smith told the House Agriculture and Small Business Committee shortly before it approved House Bill 100."

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("Hemp Bill Passes House Committee," Feb. 9, 2001).

Legislators in Iowa from both major parties were involved in an effort to legalize hemp production in the state in 2001. The Iowa State Daily story quotes one of the Iowa hemp bill's sponsors, full-time farmer and State Sen. Paul Zieman (R-Postville):
"'The benefit that I'm looking at in ( hemp ) is an alternative cash crop that we, as Iowa farmers, may be able to develop in the future,' said Zieman, one of the bill's sponsors. 'We just want to take a look at it and see if it's something we would want to pursue.'"

In Illinois, the state legislature passed a hemp research bill early in January 2001 to authorize two state universities to research industrial hemp. The state senate had already passed the measure in spring 2000.

Supporters include Don Briskin, professor of plant physiology at the University of Illinois. In an interview with the Springfield (IL) State Journal-Register, Briskin says he can "see hemp production adding to rural economic development in Illinois."

Professor Briskin is joined in his optimism by a number of officials and researchers in Canada, where a number of provinces are already conducting their own experiments in hemp production. In particular, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Municipal Affairs has an extensive bibliography of materials available online.

Researchers and agriculture specialists are also engaging in development of industrial hemp crops. Strains of hemp which naturally contain practically no THC have been developed already, and standards for separation of strains have been developed by the Canadian Seedgrowers Association to ensure that no drug-crop cannabis pollenates the hemp crops (and vice versa (the Seedgrowers Association is recognized in Canada's Seeds Act as the official body responsible for establishing standards for maintenance of genetic purity during the production of seed).

Opponents argue that legalization of any kind of cannabis, even industrial hemp -- which is reportedly useless as an intoxicant -- would send the wrong message. Supporters argue they are trying to help farmers by letting them grow a crop that is legally produced by several of our current trading partners.

US authorities are preparing to cut off the budding US hemp industry. At the end of 2000, the Drug Enforcement Administration announced it is preparing rules which would effectively ban hemp products such as cloth, lip balm, bird seed in the US. Canadian officials fear that they will lose an important market if this happens. Brian Wilson, crop diversification manager for Manitoba Agriculture and Food, told the Winnipeg Sun that hemp "is a young industry, but it does have a lot of potential. We depend, in agriculture, very much on export markets -- we don't have a large population base in Canada. If the US does something to restrict our access to the market it disrupts our economy very, very much."

The hemp industry is organizing a defense. SaveHemp.org is working on raising public awareness and mobilizing support for the DEA to abandon its attempt to ban hemp.

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