Jeez, this is incredibly stupid and wasteful.
DENVER – Hundreds of pounds of industrial hemp seeds bound from Canada to Colorado have been seized by federal authorities in North Dakota, marking the latest bump along the road to legalization of marijuana's non-intoxicating cousin.
At the center of the dispute is hemp activist Tom McClain. Armed with a copy of last year's federal Farm Bill, which allowed states to permit hemp cultivation for research and development, he set off for MacGregor, Manitoba, and bought 350 pounds of seeds used to grow a strain known as X-59 or Hemp Nut.
Hemp is legal in Canada, and North Dakota is one of 15 states with laws that allow limited hemp production. However, under the Farm Bill, importing hemp seeds requires permission from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
McClain's seeds were confiscated Saturday at the border crossing in Hansboro, North Dakota, after he says he declared the seven bags in his trunk. McClain, however, has not been charged with a crime.
"They treated me very professionally," McClain said after he returned to Colorado – without the seeds. "They were just a little confused as to what to do. According to them, I couldn't bring them in."
The DEA is notoriously recalcitrant and behind the times when it comes to dealing with the reality of today's laws and public sentiments regarding that "evul weed".
The head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Michele Leonhart, is refusing to support a bill backed by the Obama administration that would lower the length of mandatory minimum sentences for federal drug crimes, putting her at odds with her boss Attorney General Eric Holder on one of the criminal justice reform initiatives he hopes to make a centerpiece of his legacy.
ICE seems frozen in the past, too:
Shawn Neudauer, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, confirmed the seizure.
The man who's trying to import these seeds for true industrial hemp use is trying to get the issue resolved.
McClain and Jason Lauve of the Colorado-based activist group Hemp Cleans have appealed to congressional representatives in the state to resolve the seed flap in North Dakota.
A spokeswoman for Colorado's Agriculture Department, Christi Lightcap, said the agency hasn't been approached to intervene.
Colorado has accepted more than 40 hemp-cultivation applications. But the state has a "don't-ask-don't-tell" policy about the origin of the seeds used in the work.
Growers, meanwhile, have expressed frustration over the limited availability of seeds that are affordable and haven't been smuggled into the country.
The seeds confiscated in North Dakota were destined for experimental plots. Lauve said owners have only about two weeks to get the seeds planted so they can harvest the hemp before snow falls.
"We need to get that here as soon as possible," he said.
Jared Polis has been forward thinking on this issue, has prodded the feds to get their anti-marijuana act together and has given our Luddite DEA Chief whatfor. Maybe he can help.
And maybe someone can buy our Customs Service and DEA Apparatus a clue about hemp and legal marijuana and the facts regarding each.