Two North Dakota farmers who want to grow hemp are filing a federal lawsuit today to challenge the Drug Enforcement Administration's ban on the plant that is the same species that produces marijuana.
Hemp can be imported from Canada, Europe and China, but growing hemp in the USA is illegal, the DEA says.
"Hemp is marijuana," DEA spokesman Garrison Courtney says. "There's no distinguishing feature between marijuana and hemp."
Lawyers for the farmers say the Controlled Substances Act, which governs illegal drugs, makes a specific exception for hemp, a non-drug version of the marijuana plant. They are seeking a court ruling that says the federal authorities cannot arrest the North Dakota farmers for growing hemp....
Neil, no, no spare land for growing hemp. For as little land is I have, growing peonies and sweet corn would be the cash crops. Nebraska would not be a good state for growing hemp. I think the growing situation for that crop only extends into South Dakota. I believe even though Kansas is sometimes known as the sunflower state, no commercial crop is grown there and all commercial growing of sunflowers is done in North and South Dakota also.
"You can smoke 17 fields of this stuff, and it's not going to do anything," Sandler says. "It doesn't make sense to say you can import all this hemp, but you can't grow it and import it from North Dakota to South Dakota."