Kentucky Sues Feds Over Confiscated Hemp Seeds

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director May 17, 2014

    Earlier this week, the Drug Enforcement Administration ordered that 250 pounds of hemp seed be seized at Louisville Airport in Kentucky. The seeds were being imported by the Kentucky government from Italy to plant at state universities in their hemp pilot program. Kentucky legalized industrial hemp in 2013 and the federal government approved legislation this year that allowed states to engage in limited hemp cultivation.

    When the DEA refused to return the seeds under reasonable conditions, the Kentucky Agriculture Department filed suit against the Justice Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Attorney General Eric Holder.

    On Friday, there was a preliminary hearing regarding the lawsuit. During the hearing, U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II stated that the DEA must explicitly state what would need to be done for those participating in the pilot program to have the seeds returned. Federal officials responded that the Kentucky Department of Agriculture must fill out a narcotics license in addition to providing memorandum of agreement with the departments of universities planning to cultivate the crop.

    In an interview discussing the hearing with the Huffington Post, Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer stated, “It sounds like a victory, but I’m not going to declare victory until those seeds go in the ground. It was very positive today. But we’ve felt pretty good throughout this entire process over the last several weeks, and the DEA would come back and change again. I’m not celebrating. It will be a victory when I have those seeds in hand.”

    Elected officials across the state have voiced their support for the hemp program and decried the actions of federal officials. US Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stated, “It is an outrage that DEA is using finite taxpayer dollars to impound legal industrial hemp seeds.”

    According to the Congressional Resource Service, the US is the only developed nation that fails to cultivate industrial hemp as an economic crop. However, in February, members of Congress for the first time approved language in the omnibus federal Farm Bill allowing for the cultivation of industrial hemp in agricultural pilot programs in states that already permit the growth and cultivation of the plant.

    The next court hearing is expected to occur on Wednesday, May 21. NORML will keep you updated as the situation evolves.

    30 responses to “Kentucky Sues Feds Over Confiscated Hemp Seeds”

    1. Rich says:

      What a complete waste of taxpayer dollars the entire DEA is. Michele Leonhart and her DEA cronies should be doing something useful like flipping burgers instead of ruining people’s lives and interfering with planting hemp of all things. Enough already!

    2. grandma3d says:

      I think the FDA, who are owned by Big Pharma, has there hand in this. Hemp seed oil
      can cure all kinds of diseases

    3. YearofAction says:

      If marijuana is defined this way in the Controlled Substances Act:

      The term ‘marihuana’ means all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L., whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted
      from any part of such plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant, its seeds or resin. Such term does not include the mature stalks of such plant, fiber produced from such stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of such plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber, oil, or cake, or the sterilized seed of such plant which is incapable of germination.

      but hemp is defined this way in the Agricultural Act of 2014:

      The term ‘industrial hemp’ means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9
      tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.

      what is a DEA agent supposed to do?

      This definition of marijuana would make it clear to them:

      The term marijuana means all parts of the smoke produced by the combustion of the plant Cannabis sativa L.

      and they would let the seeds be planted as intended.

      Time is running out for this year’s planting season, so tell your representatives to redefine marijuana.

    4. jimmy says:

      This particular topic is one that puts some light on what has been decades of head-scratching and bewilderment over how such poor and damaging public policy still exists. How can it when we know the CSA drug war is accepted as failure and damaging to real people, and that public opinion is strongly for legalization (or terminating prohibition part 2)

      It’s because they didn’t call it the “Hemp Tax Stamp Act,” nor did they call it “Hemp Madness.” Marihuana and Reefer, just terms to obfuscate, to confuse people by being inarticulate, using double-speak that people didn’t understand as referring to hemp. Everyone knew what hemp was in the early twentieth century because we had lived with the plant for millenia, previously.

      To claim that control of hemp is executed in order to remain consistent with a CSA law that should not be, in the first place, an ongoing error, that sort of claim is horse puckey.

      They don’t care if people get stoned and will claim a goal of trying to stop them by force, because they “care” and are concerned, and that’s what justifies the continuation of longest running failure of policy, inappropriately called a drug “war,” when it is transparent oppression. Of human rights. “Look at the abuses over there in China!” That’s a distraction, while we have the most prisoners per capita, and other medieval punishments, for a non-crime.

      They can’t claim that the control of hemp, the justification for what is economic inanity and descent, extends from the so-called need to control peoples’ use of cannabis for psychotropic and medicinal purposes??!

      Let’s just stop playing that game. of concern being primary, because what is most important here to the schemers behind this disaster of public policy hold, as the highest priority, the ban on hemp growing in the US.

      You can purchase it from other countries, hemp products and raw hemp, but people cannot grow it.

      T r a n s p a r e n t , i n c e s s a n t , c o r r u p t i o n

      They don’t care if people smoke cannabis and eat Goldfish, they don’t care if a universally accepted medicine, except for flat-earth types, in obscene and intellectually dishonest fashion, withhold what is a human right, from the ill and infirm.

      Before Anslinger Hearst Dupont, the very idea of ” paper from trees ” was unheard of, it must’ve been sold to the public with an arsenal of marketing tricks.

      “Paper from trees? Bahahahah! What moron thinks that is a good idea when we have the best paper already from stuff that takes 1 year instead of 25 to grow?” I imagine that’s how some responded.

      “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.”

      Albert Einstein

    5. Julian says:

      It’s on now!
      Confiscate 250 pounds of hemp seed, even after the hemp research amendment passed? Does this not reveal what’s at stake or who is pulling the DEA’s strings? The Koch brothers must be terrified for the threatened value of their petrochemical and timber patents.
      If the DEA doesnt return the seeds before planting season is over, carry the suit against the DEA not for collateral damage or monetary award but for being unconstitutionally organized under the Controlled Substances Act. By the time they try and appeal, Florida will have voted in November and more than half the U.S. will have pro marijuana legislation, making it favorable to win big in the Supreme Court.
      Sounds like the DEA wasnt expecting Kentucky to file suit. I love James Comer. I wish Texas had an Ag. Comissioner with balls like that. (Vote Kinky!)

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    7. Freedom And Liberty says:

      Seriously it’s a problem. And its a problem bigger than just this one incident. In several areas fed gov agencies are operating above the law and beyond the will of the people. We must restore freedom and liberty. We must undo or downsize fed agencies. We need to return power to the citizens…We have out of control few in fed agencies and some politicians that are working against freedom, liberty, and the USA as a whole. Its time to shut down programs, funding, and agencies that are trying to disarm citizens, trying to keep our nation from growing by stopping a major cash crop like industrial hemp. We need to end the big government attacking internet and internet business. We have serious problems with small group using fed this or that , phrases like fed land. When its citizens land not a fed agencies or politicians land. Its time to unite by coming together as citizens if at all possible by peaceful means and get our government employees the politicians and fed agencies focused on growing our nation financially and away from being a police state that oppresses freedom and liberty.

    8. Mr. Sandman says:

      So much for the feds not giving a fuck. fascist pigs.

    9. Dusty says:

      “It is an outrage that DEA is using finite taxpayer dollars to impound legal industrial hemp seeds.”

      It is an outrage that the DEA would dare ask for a narcotics license for cultivation of a crop that has absolutely nothing to do whatsoever with narcotics!

    10. Ohio I am says:

      If were still looking for escaped Nazi’s
      I think they can be found working for the