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Minnesota hemp farmer sues the state for constitutional violations

Updated: Jun 8, 2019


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A hemp farmer from southern Minnesota is suing the state for trying to ruin his business.

The industrial farmer, Luis Hummel, claims that the state disrespected his right to due process when he received a letter ordering him to destroy his hemp crop and notifying him that his license would be revoked. [1]


Reporting from Minnesota Public Radio shows that Hummel and his family stand to lose thousands in lost profits after police claimed hemp from his farm exceeded the legal limit for THC contents. Hummel says he wasn’t informed of any of this when he received a notice that he would be cut out from the state’s pilot program for industrial hemp.


Industrial hemp can be used for a bevy of ends, including plastics that are less damaging to the environment than those made with petroleum, textiles and clothing that takes less water to cultivate than options like polyester and even cotton, but most importantly lucrative CBD extracts.


The Minnesota pilot program for select farmers to grow hemp for the sake of research started off in 2014, when very few farmers enrolled. The number of licensees has greatly expanded since then, especially given the prospect for sales of hemp after the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp.


This means the loss to the Hummels is compounded by the fact that this is the first ever planting season that could result in highly profitable sales for Minnesota farmers.


Besides possible police overreach — we still have to wait and see how the courts judge on Hummel’s suit — Minnesota’s recent Health and Human Services omnibus spending bill included amendments with language calling for rather onerous labelling restrictions.


Given the varying degrees of specificity from a given third-party lab and the varied levels of THC, terpenes and other substances in a given batch of CBD based on current available technology within the industry, experts in the retail and farming sphere think the new law took far too little input from stakeholders before it was passed.


"MDA is revoking your license from the Pilot Project Program and revoking your industrial hemp license for one year," a letter from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to Hummel said. "As a result, you are no longer in the pilot program, and must immediately destroy all viable propagative plant material." The MDA refused to give Minnesota Public Radio a statement. [1]


The Hummel letter came after someone headed into the Twin Cities was stopped by police and the THC in their hemp tested at higher than 0.3%, the legal limit, but that individual didn’t get arrested at the time and the MDA didn’t notify Hummel about the incident before cancelling his permit. [1]


"There are so many people who have invested their livelihood in this," Johnson told MPR News in an interview. "We'll play by the rules if we know what the rules are.” [1]


Hummel claims his business, 5th Sun Gardens, is worth $3.5 million, and that the state’s unjust actions threaten the entire operation. [1]


Sources

[1] https://www.mprnews.org/story/2019/06/06/hemp-production-minnesota-farmer-sues

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