BISMARCK, N.D. -- North Dakota's Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson will accept the first application from a farmer who qualifies for an Industrial Hemp license this week.



The license, which is expected to be granted, would go to farmer and North Dakota Assistant House Majority Leader David Monson, 10 years after the first hemp bill was passed in the state.



Farmers across North Dakota will make history as the first state to grant commercial hemp farming licenses in the United States in 50 years. Conversely it is unclear what the Drug Enforcement Administration will do when they receive requests for the licenses to be honored.



"I have filled out the application, and all I need are fingerprints and GPS field coordinates. I will submit my application for an industrial hemp license with the state Department of Agriculture early next week," said Representative David Monson, R-Osnabrock on Friday. "I expect that the state will grant me a hemp farming license, but I'm not sure that the $3,440 non-refundable registration fee I will send to DEA with my application for manufacturing and importing will get me anything.



"Burton Johnson, an agronomist and professor at North Dakota State University (NDSU), has submitted at least 2 applications with DEA since 1999, but has never received a license in those seven years," says Monson. "I'm prepared to take this to court if DEA refuses to grant a permit in a reasonable amount of time or places onerous restrictions on it."



Representative Monson operates his farm in Osnabrock, N.D., and is only 25 miles from the Canadian border and 110 miles from the nearest hemp seed processing facility, Hemp Oil Canada in Ste. Agathe, Manitoba.

Commissioner Johnson has cautioned that farmers who hold state industrial hemp licenses must also obtain permission from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and that a state license is not effective until the licensee receives a registration from DEA to import, produce, or process industrial hemp.



Last month Johnson sent a letter to DEA administrator Karen Tandy asking that DEA waive individual registration fees for newly licensed industrial hemp producers in North Dakota and that DEA work with the Agriculture Department so farmers can plant the historic first industrial hemp crop this spring.



North Dakota was one of the first states to pass industrial hemp legislation and has done so five times. North Dakota's first hemp law, passed in 1997, directed that the State University Agriculture Experiment Station do a study of industrial hemp production. In 1999, a pair of bills were passed, one, a resolution, urging Congress to acknowledge the difference between the agricultural crop known as industrial hemp and its drug-type relative; the second, a bill, was to authorize the production of industrial hemp and remove it from the noxious weed list. In 2001, another resolution was passed similar to the 1999 resolution and in 2005 a bill was passed allowing for feral hemp seed collection and breeding at NDSU.



"DEA could easily grant licenses to farmers and work with North Dakota under existing regulations, but we're not planning on re-writing our mission statement just yet," says Vote Hemp President Eric Steenstra. "It has been 37 years since the ill-considered Controlled Substance Act was passed, mistakenly making industrial hemp a Schedule 1 substance. The time is ripe for hemp to be grown here in the U.S. again.



"Farmers in North Dakota, and all across the U.S., should be able to grow industrial hemp just like their Canadian counterparts," says Steenstra.



Health Canada statistics show that 24,021 acres of industrial hemp were produced in Canada in 2005 and 48,060 acres in 2006. Vote Hemp estimates that the total value of hemp products sold in the US is now $270 million, while the seed has been shown to have tremendous nutritional benefits in food.



More information about hemp legislation and the crop's uses can be found at http://www.VoteHemp.com">www.VoteHemp.com.



SOURCE: Vote Hemp via PR Newswire.