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Proposed Rules for Industrial Hemp Being Reviewed

Rules aimed at allowing North Dakota farmers to legally grow industrial hemp are under review by the attorney general's office, Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson says.

The rules require growers to pass a criminal background check and be fingerprinted, Johnson said. The federal Drug Enforcement Administration would review each permit application and have the final say on whether a farmer is allowed to grow hemp.

"We've just done a lot of work on it," Johnson said. "We've done it very methodically ... we're trying to meet every legitimate concern the DEA has raised and I think we've met them. But ultimately, it will be up to DEA if they're going to agree or not."

Farmers in the United States are barred from growing hemp without a DEA permit. Drug enforcement officials consider hemp a controlled substance because it is a distant relative of marijuana.

Supporters say industrial hemp cannot get anyone high, and growing it would help boost the farm economy.

Legislation proposed in California tries to avoid federal restrictions by requiring farmers to sell the industrial hemp only to processors in that state.

The California proposal also would require the hemp crop be tested before harvesting to make sure it has only a trace amount of tetrahydrocannabinols, or THC, the drug in marijuana.

Industrial hemp can be used in such products as clothing, cosmetics, food, paper, rope, jewelry, luggage, sports equipment and toys.