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Farmers throughout the industrialized world grow hemp legally as a source for a diverse range of products including foods, fabrics, plastic, cosmetics, and building materials. Although hemp was once widely grown in the United States, modern efforts to cultivate hemp have been frustrated by federal drug-control laws because the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) does not distinguish between industrial hemp and psychotropic marijuana. Over the past decade, many states have enacted legislation liberalizing their laws regulating industrial hemp, and in 1999, North Dakota became the first state to create a full licensing scheme for hemp cultivation. However, farmers’ efforts to benefit from their state licenses have been stymied by an inability to obtain licenses from the DEA, licenses that are required under federal law.

This Comment examines the legislative history of the federal laws regulating hemp and marijuana, and the standards that the DEA is directed to apply when reviewing the applications of prospective industrial hemp farmers. It argues that, pursuant to the factors outlined by Congress, the DEA cannot legitimately deny or delay licenses to applicants who have been licensed under state regulatory systems like North Dakota’s. Finally, it explores possible avenues of recourse available under the Administrative Procedure Act for hemp-farming applicants whose requests for federal licensing are not timely approved.


  1. Alex Brant-Zawadzki says

    Hello! My name's Alex. I'm studying towards an MA in Public Affairs at the University of San Francisco.

    Currently I'm working on putting together a white paper on the feasibility of legalizing industrial hemp growth in California. The assignment is essentially to summarize the current literature on the issue, identify a problem, suggest a solution, and suggest methods of implementing that solution.

    From my initial research, it appears that the problem lies in coordinating legislation on both the state and federal level - in other words, removing any impeding state regulations while at the same time altering the CSA, which necessitates action in both the House and the Senate - action which has already been taken by Ron Paul and, recently, Rand Paul as well.

    In re: Rand Paul, it seems that Kentucky is the furthest along the path of federally-condoned industrial hemp growth. It looks as if they're accomplishing this through a collaboration between local, state and federal government, with farmers, with industrial hemp product manufacturers, even law enforcement.

    My task will be to find some sort of model, whether it be Kentucky or Canada, to demonstrate the value of the crop, the factual errors in current legislation, and potential solutions/steps forward in the process.

    Ideally I'd like to refute the major arguments beyond a shadow of a doubt, even if it means contacting the DEA and asking someone to explain exactly how farmers could conceal medicinal marijuana in industrial hemp, due to the different planting methods, the nigh-certainty of cross-pollination, and the like. I'm putting together materials on the potential to alter agroclimactic conditions to minimize the THC and/or CBD in industrial hemp, the potential for its use as a biofuel, for sustainable concrete, as a reinforcement for plastics, etc. etc.

    I'm not sure if I have any particular questions, as much as I'd appreciate any general advice you might have. I've been covering this on and off since 2001, when as an intern for Time Magazine in DC I was tasked with responding to a query from the London bureau on a story regarding government marijuana policy ("Europe Goes To Pot")

    Thanks for your time and I hope you had a happy holiday weekend.

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