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North Dakota farmers lose industrial hemp court case

Two North Dakota farmers failed to convince the 8th Circuit that cannabis grown for industrial hemp is not technically marijuana and should not be regulated under federal law.

hemp for fuel food fiber medicineThe court in St. Louis upheld dismissal of the farmers’ lawsuit seeking a declaration that the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) does not apply to industrial-use cannabis. They also argued that North Dakota law allowed them to grow industrial hemp.

Marijuana and hemp both come from Cannabis sativa L., but are cultivated from different parts of the plant. Drug-use cannabis is produced from the flowers and leaves of certain strains of the plant, while hemp is typically produced from the stalks and seeds of other strains. All cannabis plants contain tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive substance in marijuana.

The appeals court pointed out that the Act defines marijuana to include all cannabis plants, regardless of the THC concentration.

“The CSA likewise makes no distinction between cannabis grown for drug use and that grown for industrial use,” Judge Pasco Bowman wrote.

The three-judge panel rejected the notion that industrial hemp is not marijuana under the Act, or that Congress has no authority to regulate their state-sanctioned cultivation of cannabis.

Judge Bowman said Congress had a “rational basis” for regulating the cultivation of all cannabis plants in order to effectively regulate marijuana.

The panel added that the farmers’ analysis of the Commerce Clause “ignores the indisputable fact that they seek to engage in a commercial enterprise that will result in the introduction of goods into interstate commerce.”