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Industrial Hemp Is Illegal Marijuana Under Federal Law
Description Appeals court held that a farmer who requested a ruling as to the application of federal laws against the possession and use of marijuana applied to industrial hemp has an issue that is ripe for review since he could be prosecuted. Under federal law, industrial hemp is classified the same as cannabis sativa grown for non-industrial recreational purposes.
Topic Criminal Law
Key Words Federal Law; State Law; Industrial Hemp; Marijuana
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Owen, a member of the New Hampshire legislature, co-sponsored a bill to legalize and regulate the cultivation of industrial hemp, which is used in making products such as rope. The hemp plant is designated cannabis sativa, which is declared illegal under various federal statutes because industrial hemp and marijuana are in that family. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) testified that regardless of the intended use of the hemp, it was illegal under federal law. Owen and others brought the case to seek a declaration that industrial hemp is not marijuana so that the DEA would not be able to prosecute hemp growers. The district court dismissed the case, finding that Owen lacked standing. Owen appealed.
Decision Affirmed. Owen has standing to bring the case because the threat of criminal prosecution is realistic. The court has the power to grant declaratory and injunctive relief to prevent prosecution, so the issue is ripe for review. Industrial hemp contains a low content of the psychoactive substance tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is defined as marijuana under the federal Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970. The stalks and fiber of the cannabis sativa plant are illegal to possess regardless of use. New Hampshire law may not be to the contrary.
Citation New Hampshire Hemp Council, Inc. v. Marshall, 203 F.3d 1 (1st Cir., 2000)

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