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Monday, November 12, 2007

Courts into Plowshares

posted by on November 12 at 14:24 PM

Today’s Washington Post features a story about Wayne Hauge, a North Dakota bean farmer suing the federal government to cultivate industrial hemp despite federal laws banning pot. North Dakota’s legislature saw the crop’s benefits – profitable, environmentally sound, useful – and passed a law in 1999 allowing farmers to grow hemp, the same genus as marijuana, provided it contains less than .3 percent of the psychoactive compound THC. But federal agents have ripped up every crop planted.

Godspeed, lawyers and farmers. I’m all for legalizing hemp – shit, I was director of Hempfest for years – but social activism around this issue is a box canyon.

It’s ridiculous to think that laws will change if enough people wear clothes that look like burlap sacks. And unlike the hippie lettuce, which people use in small quantities and can be decriminalized at the state level without tangling in the fed’s jurisdiction, hemp is always grown in enormous fields. Attempts to grow 2,000 acres of marijuana are sure to end up before a federal judge. And federal law on pot is steadfast—it’s set by Congress, beholden to the DEA, which couldn’t give a rat’s ass about the popularity of hemp lip balm. The DEA tenaciously argues that pot and hemp can’t be visibly distinguished, so if hemp were legalized it would disguise vast pot farms. They also contend that the traces of THC in hemp could turn teetotalers into pot addicts—maybe the same way poppy-seed muffins turn pastry eaters into heroin junkies.

So sue the fuckers to bypass the DEA and change federal law! But if this legal strategy fails to yield results, the path to sanctioning the domestic cultivation of industrial hemp – we currently import it from 30 other countries – is by loosening the fed’s grip on pot laws. This might upset the hemp purists who don’t want to confuse alternaculture with agriculture, but Hempfest embraced the connection years ago. The event is overtly about pot now. Hemp’s illegal because of our mindfuckingly backward pot laws. We legalize pot for adults and we get a windfall of other benefits.

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thank YOU sir.

Posted by Jake Salvador | November 12, 2007 2:35 PM

I love it that most of these "activist" North Dakota farmers profiled in the mainstream media these days (see also: , which I'm sure Dom's linked to in the past) are stauch Republicans just trying to earn a living by cultivating the land. Such radicals! Our cause if full of unlikely allies.

Posted by meh | November 12, 2007 2:48 PM

Our cause if full of unlikely allies.

That's usually how you can tell you have a good authentic cause, and not one that has been squeezed into our consciousness by the ruling two-party elite.

Posted by JMR | November 12, 2007 3:32 PM

Sorry, but the support of ND farmers isn't going to change jack shit.

The drug law enforcement complex, just like the military-industrial complex, depends on the status-quo for a reason to exist. They appeal to irrational fear; that's why absurd ideas, such as industrial hemp turning America into a nation of potheads, get purchase. It's also why the public buys off on unconstitutional actions such as property seizures without a conviction, which puts money directly in the budgets of law enforcement.

Policy makers know that a fast-track to unemployment is to go soft on drugs. They often use ridiculous claims about the dangers of drugs as cover to do nothing (other than jack up mandatory minimum sentences) rather than tackle the very tough issues around drug use in our culture.

Nobody gets elected on the pro dope platform. There's a reason why folks like Norm Stamper start talking about the emperors lack of clothing only AFTER they retire.

Posted by Westside forever | November 12, 2007 4:06 PM

Dominic, when are we going to see a statewide follow-up to I-75? Seems like the time is ripe.

Posted by lorax | November 12, 2007 8:40 PM

I'm sorry, but the whole slant of this article doesn't quite make sense to me. industrial hemp really isn't pot. Sure it has *some* THC, but you'd have to smoke so much of it to get a buzz, you'll wind up with a killer headache before you got to that point.

It seems to me that the current drug laws are being applied too liberally.

While I agree that making pot legal -- the smokable kind -- isn't a bad idea, it really is a completely separate issue. There is no connection between industrial and non-industrial help here, aside from the fact that a law against one is being misapplied to the other.

Posted by Toby | November 13, 2007 10:37 AM

Oops, I meant:

"There is no connection between industrial and non-industrial HEMP here..."

Posted by Toby | November 13, 2007 10:38 AM

The slant of this article, Toby, is that there are two ways to legalize hemp. Sue the federal government to make a legal exception for the non-psychoactive variety, which is why I'm cheering on the litigious farmers, or legalize pot first. A people's movement to declare hemp and pot separate is pure semantics and it's lost on the powers that be. They are the same plant--cannabis. Same genus and everything.

Posted by Dominic Holden | November 13, 2007 11:59 AM

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