A lawsuit for getting the right to grow industrial hemp filed against the U.S government by two North Dakota farmers was dismissed.
Judge Daniel Hovland said the farmers, Wayne Hauge and Dave Monson, should take their fight to the U.S. Congress.
Hauge and Monson had sued to bar the federal government from prosecuting them for growing industrial hemp under state regulations approved last year.
The farmers applied to the Drug Enforcement Administration for permission, but the agency has not acted on their request.
Hemp falls under federal anti-drug rules because it has trace amounts of the mind-altering chemical THC that is found in marijuana.
Legislation introduced in Congress last February would exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana, but no hearings have been held on the bill. Hemp can be used for a variety of products, from rope to lotion, and farmers view it as a possibly lucrative new crop.
"Congress can best address this problem," Hovland wrote in his decision late Wednesday to dismiss the lawsuit.
Hovland's ruling mirrored comments he made when he heard arguments in the case earlier this month. Hovland told lawyers that the best remedy might be to change the definition of industrial hemp under the Federal Controlled Substances Act, which does not distinguish the plant from the illegal drug marijuana.
Garrison Courtney, a spokesman for the DEA, said the agency was "satisfied that the judge agreed with the government position." He declined comment on details of the ruling.
Plaintiffs' attorney Tim Purdon said he was disappointed in Hovland's ruling. He said no decision had been made on whether to appeal.
Eric Steenstra, president of Vote Hemp, the nonprofit lobbying group that funded the farmers' lawsuit, called Hovland's ruling disappointing, saying it overlooks the original intent of Congress.
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