Via Vote Hemp:
On June 18, 2007 the two North Dakota farmers granted state hemp farming licenses, Rep. David Monson and Wayne Hauge, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota in an effort to end the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) obstruction of commercial hemp farming in the United States.
For those who haven’t been following this case — basically, the state of North Dakota, after determining that hemp would be a good viable crop in the state, passed a law allowing farmers to grow industrial hemp, if they jumped through a bunch of state hoops and got permission from the DEA. So these two farmers went through the state process and put in their application with the DEA. The DEA said “Thanks for the application. We’ll sit on it for a dozen years or so just to to be jerks, and approve it when hell freezes over.” So the state of North Dakota said, “Forget that nonsense — you don’t need to get DEA approval anymore.”
This set up the confrontation that we’re seeing now. The lawsuit is to prevent the DEA from busting the farmers for following state law.
I’ve read the complaint (pdf) and it’s quite interesting. This is going to generate some more fireworks.
Now it may seem suicidal to base their argument on limited federal government reach under the Commerce Clause (particularly given recent Supreme Court rulings — ie, Raich). However, even in Raich, the government was able to find a convoluted way to say that the marijuana used by Raich had an affect on the overall national supply and movement of marijuana (as absurd as that idea is to rational people). But in this case, the parts of the plant that will be utilized are specifically exempted from the Controlled Substances Act (and that has been confirmed by the courts).
So I don’t know — maybe the Commerce Clause has a couple of crumbs of usefulness left. We’ll see.
In the complaint, they get a few nice digs in against the DEA:
On information and belief, DEA would in fact not act on the two Plaintiff
farmers‰ applications, ever. Even in the highly unlikely event that DEA ever made a
decision on those applications, the decision would be a foregone conclusion: DEA has
clearly indicated that it would treat Plaintiffs‰ non-drug state-licensed and regulated
industrial hemp cultivation as the manufacture of a substance controlled under Schedule I
of the CSA and would never authorize such production.
Update: Nice analysis of the history of hemp and the DEA by Jamison Colburn over at Findlaw today. [Thanks, Tom]