Federal government’s priorities have us confused

Remember years ago when North Dakota lawmakers approved legislation allowing farmers in the state to grow industrial hemp, a distant cousin of marijuana that contains only tiny traces of THC, the psychoactive element of the plant? Remember the federal government’s reaction?

Years later, no hemp has been grown legally in North Dakota because the Drug Enforcement Agency refuses to approve any permits submitted by North Dakotans. The state’s law, the feds argue, conflicts with the federal law, and therefore, the growing of industrial hemp, which is grown for its seeds, oil and fiber, cannot be allowed in North?Dakota.

Now consider comments last week from Attorney?General Eric Holder when discussing laws passed last year by Washington state and Colorado making it legal to sell and use certain amounts of marijuana in those states. Holder said the Justice Department is still deciding how to respond to those laws, and the response could include suing to block sales of marijuana in those states because the conflict with federal law. In addition, President Barack Obama has said that going after marijuana users in those states is not a priority, although he hasn’t said he supports pot legalization, either.

Needless to say, we’re confused about the federal government’s priorities, or lack thereof. Smoking pot in Colorado and Washington is OK even though it conflicts with federal law, but growing harmless industrial hemp in North Dakota is forbidden because it conflicts with federal law. And actively preventing farmers from growing hemp is more of a priority than preventing folks from smoking pot in two states?

Well, we’re glad Holder cleared that up for us.