By CHUCK HAGA MinnPost.com
GRAND FORKS, N.D. – David Monson has heard all the jokes from bemused neighbors.
"Is your farm going to pot, Dave?"
"Hey, Dave, how's your weed control?"
A wheat, barley and canola grower from Osnabrock, N.D., hard on the Canadian border, Monson is one of two North Dakota farmers trying to sue the federal government into relaxing drug-war restrictions on the cultivation of industrial hemp, a relative of marijuana.
A federal district judge in North Dakota tossed their lawsuit, but an attorney for Monson and Wayne Hauge told a panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, meeting in St. Paul Nov. 12, that the farmers should be allowed to use state-issued permits to produce hemp seed and oil without fear of federal prosecution under the Controlled Substances Act.
The appeals panel also heard from a Justice Department attorney, who said Congress has the authority to regulate the crop and has decided its cultivation should be restricted.
Getting ready for a new job
Monson wasn't in court Wednesday. He was in Bismarck, getting hired for a new job. In January, he'll become Speaker of the North Dakota House of Representatives, where for several sessions he has been assistant Republican majority leader.
No, this is no pot-smoking hippie trying to sneak something past the narcs.