Legislators in a number of states are pushing forward measures to delay the enactment of several voter-initiated marijuana laws.
In Arkansas, House lawmakers are moving forward with legislation, House Bill 1026, to postpone the deadline for establishing the state’s new medical marijuana program by 60 days. Fifty-three percent of voters approved Issue 6 on Election Day, which called on lawmakers to regulate the production and dispensing of medical cannabis within 120 days.
In Maine, leading House and Senate lawmakers have endorsed emergency legislation, LD 88, to delay retail marijuana sales by at least three months. Under the voter-initiated law, rules regulating the commercial marijuana market are supposed to be operational by January 1, 2018. (By contrast, separate provisions permitting adults to possess and grow specific quantities of cannabis take effect on January 30, 2017.)
In North Dakota, Senate lawmakers unanimously passed emergency legislation, Senate Bill 2154, to postpone the deadline for the enactment of the North Dakota Compassionate Care Act. Sixty-four percent of voters backed the measure, which gave lawmakers a 90-day window to regulate the distribution of medical marijuana.
Massachusetts’ lawmakers previously enacted legislation imposing a six-month delay on the licensed production and retail sales of marijuana. Legislators are also debating making additional changes to the law, including raising the proposed retail sales tax and limiting the number of plants an adult may grow at home.
In Florida, health regulators are also calling for significant changes to Amendment 2, which passed with 71 percent of the vote.
NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri strongly criticized the proposed changes and delays, calling them “an affront to the democratic process.” He added: “Voters have lived with the failings of marijuana prohibition for far too long already. Lawmakers have a responsibility to abide by the will of the voters and to do so in a timely manner.”
(Courthouse News Service) – Two North Dakota farmers failed to convince the 8th Circuit that cannabis grown for industrial hemp is not technically marijuana and should not be regulated under federal law.
The court in St. Louis upheld dismissal of the farmers’ lawsuit seeking a declaration that the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) does not apply to industrial-use cannabis.
The appeals court pointed out that the Act defines marijuana to include all cannabis plants, regardless of the THC concentration.
“The CSA likewise makes no distinction between cannabis grown for drug use and that grown for industrial use,” Judge Pasco Bowman wrote.
The three-judge panel rejected the notion that industrial hemp is not marijuana under the Act, or that Congress has no authority to regulate their state-sanctioned cultivation of cannabis.
Judge Bowman said Congress had a “rational basis” for regulating the cultivation of all cannabis plants in order to effectively regulate marijuana.
The “rational basis” here is that North Dakota farmers can’t grow tall, reedy hemp plants that could never ever get anyone high, because that will confuse the law enforcement officials who are working to eradicate short bushy cannabis plants that are grown to get people high. Somehow, in Australia, Canada, and China to name a few countries, police who are tasked with eradicating illegal cannabis in those countries that have legal hemp have no difficulty whatsoever distinguishing the two crops, but American police are just baffled by basic agriculture.
Silly as it sounds, that’s the court’s argument. We’d never be able to “effectively regulate marijuana” if farmers were growing hemp. Not that we’re actually “effectively regulating marijuana” now. Prohibition of marijuana is the absence of regulation — no regulations on who can buy it, who can sell it, where it can be sold, what age you must be to purchase it, where it can be used, what THC potency is allowed, whether the crop can be grown with certain pesticides and fertilizers, and what penalties should be leveled for failure to follow the regulations. Yes, there are laws against marijuana that makes all of those actions a crime, but by definition you can only regulate something that is legal.
Prohibition doesn’t make those actions go away, it just makes them crimes. Therefore, those actions are occurring in an unregulated manner. So how is it, again, that growing an industrial hemp plant is preventing the government from regulating something that prohibition made unregulated?
It can now be said that Uruguay is more progressive and possesses a greater sense of entrepreneurialism than the United States–at least regarding industrial hemp!
After a decade-long political and legal battle with the federal government, the state of North Dakota and their farmers are still being denied the ability to cultivate–and prosper from- industrial hemp (i.e., cannabis that is under 1% THC in content and therefore is used for industrial purposes), unlike their brethren farmers in France, China, Great Britain, Canada and now…Uruguay.
ND farmers lose appeal to grow hemp; US appeals court affirms dismissal of federal lawsuit
By JAMES MacPHERSON
The Associated Press
December 22, 2009
(AP) BISMARCK, N.D. – A federal appeals court on Tuesday affirmed a lower court’s decision to dismiss a lawsuit by two North Dakota farmers who said they should be allowed to grow industrial hemp without fear of federal criminal prosecution.
Wayne Hauge and David Monson received North Dakota’s first state licenses to grow industrial hemp nearly three years ago, but they’ve never received approval from the Drug Enforcement Administration. The farmers sued the DEA, and their case has been before the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for more than a year after U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland dismissed it.
Hemp, which is used to make paper, lotion and other products, is related to the illegal drug marijuana. Under federal law, parts of an industrial hemp plant are considered controlled substances.
Hovland told the farmers the best remedy might be to ask Congress to change the law to explicitly distinguish hemp from marijuana.
“I guess the next step is we’ll have to take it to Congress,” said Hauge, who grows garbanzo beans and other crops near the northwestern North Dakota town of Ray. “The fastest and easiest way to handle this would be for the president to order the Department of Justice to stand down on all actions against industrial hemp.”
Dawn Dearden, a DEA spokeswoman in Washington, D.C., said the agency could not comment on the case.
The farmers’ attorney, Tim Purdon of Bismarck, would not comment on the appeals court decision.
David Monson, a Republican state legislator and farmer from Osnabrock in northeastern North Dakota, said Congress likely has no time to deal with the hemp issue.
“With all the other things, hemp is not high on their priority list, and I can understand that,” Monson said.
“Somehow, we need to get enough states involved so Congress can take action on it,” Monson said.
North Dakota officials issued Monson and Hauge the nation’s first licenses to grow industrial hemp in 2007. But without permission from the DEA, the farmers could be arrested for growing the crop.
Hemp contains trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, a banned substance, and it falls under federal anti-drug rules, the DEA says. Hemp proponents say it is safe because it contains only trace amounts of THC, and not enough to produce a high.
Vote Hemp, the lobbying arm of the hemp industry, has helped fund the farmers’ legal battle. Spokesman Adam Eidinger said the group has spent about $60,000 to date. He said he was disappointed with Tuesday’s ruling.
“The 8th Circuit is kind of conservative, so I can’t say I’m totally surprised,” he said.
Eidinger said only a handful of states have passed pro-hemp farming laws. He said North Dakota is the first state to craft rules to license industrial hemp farmers.
Monson had planned to seed 10 acres of hemp on his farm the northeastern part of the state. He said hemp is grown 25 miles north of his farm in Canada, where production has been legal since 1998, after 60 years of prohibition.
Hauge said he hopes someday to seed 100 acres of hemp on his farm.
“My great-grand dad homesteaded here more than 100 years ago, with a sod house on the wide-open prairie,” Hauge said. “If he could do that, I can stand a small amount of adversity to grow industrial hemp.”
Then there is ‘progressive’ South America…
First in South America: Uruguay to Test Cultivation of Industrial Hemp
by Paula Alvarado, Buenos Aires on 12.22.09
Great news for TreeHuggers in South America: Uruguay could become the first country in the region to authorize the cultivation of industrial hemp, according to El Pais newspaper. The national Ministry of Cattle, Agriculture and Fishing has authorized an experimental cultivation of hemp to take place in october 2010. If the results are successful, the country could grant permits to producers to start growing.
The pilot cultivation will be carried away by the National Institute for Farming Technology and its place will remain secret. The goal is to get to know the productive capacities of the country and how the plants varieties respond to Uruguayan soil.
If the cultivation moves forward, however, producers will only be able to grow hemp with special permits so that the Ministry of Agriculture can control the production.
One of the companies behind the project is The Latin American Hemp Trading, which is fighting to make Uruguay the first country in the region to enter the industry of hemp since 2006.
Hemp and the South American soy frenzy
You probably know that hemp is a great crop: fast growing, needs few to no herbicides, and is incredible versatile, among other interesting characteristics. Problem is, its production is still banned in many countries for its association with the psychoactive variety used as drug (the industrial hemp has less than 0.3% THC, while marijuana contains anywhere from 6 or 7% to 20% or even more).
So far countries in South America make no distinction between industrial and psychoactive hemp, and neither does Uruguay. But that could begin to change if the results from this project are positive.
Apart from the amazing materials that can be produced with hemp, it would be interesting to know how the region reacts if Uruguay is successful growing hemp. Right now Argentina and Uruguay are major transgenic-soy producers, with heavy use of harmful herbicides and fertilizers. If the hemp industry takes off and proves lucrative, could it provide some balance to soy production? Hopefully
La otra cannabis en Uruguay
Emprendimiento. Autorizan plan piloto para desarrollar la agroindustria del cáñamo
Original reporting from El Pais.