Byline: Kevin Featherly
A Lanesboro hemp farmer is suing the state Department of Agriculture in Minnesota's U.S. District Court, seeking an injunction to prevent destruction of a crop he values at more than $3 million.
Luis Miguel Hummel is a former bartender who runs 5th Sun Gardens LLC, an industrial hemp farm operating on 1 acres of land in Fillmore County. In addition to the agency, his suit names MDA Commissioner Thom Petersen and several agency employees.
Industrial hemp is a relative of marijuana that can legally be farmed and processedas long as its concentration of the psychoactive ingredient THC is less than 0.3%.
Hummel, a tattoo- and Mohawk-sporting Bolivian immigrant whose professional "cannabis name" is Lulu Magoo, converts hemp to cannabinoids, or CDBs, the active ingredient in medical marijuana.
CBDs do not make users high but are said to reduce anxiety, increase appetite and help patients suffering from inflammation and pain. The compound is often marketed as topical oil but can take other forms. One Hummel product"raw hemp flowers"is smoked.
He has been told to stop production.
Hummel's suit accuses MDA of violating his constitutional right to procedural due process by stripping his license, without a hearing, to participate in Minnesota's 1-year-old industrial hemp pilot program. Hummel is relying on that program to launch what he hopes will become a booming business.
"Basically, they're trying to revoke my license on some just bogus rules," Hummel said Tuesday. "They're not giving me due process or anything to contest what they're trying to say happened."
In addition to the injunction, the complaint seeks a declaratory judgment that plaintiffs are owed a revocation hearing, plus unspecified monetary damages.
The flap started with a traffic stop.
In a May 1 letter, MDA counsel Doug Spanier told Hummel that Fillmore County law enforcement pulled over an unnamed individual in possession of cannabis products. The driver said the material belonged to 5th Sun Gardens.
"He also stated that he was selling these products in the Twin Cities area on your behalf," Spanier's May 1 letter tells Hummel. Several samples were tested by law enforcement, the letter says, and exceeded the 0.3% THC limit. That violates Hummel's agreement as an MDA-licensed hemp grower, Spanier wrote.
Hummel said the traffic stop involved Brandon Sean Cole of Rochester. He describes Cole as a "buddy" who helps sell his products. "He was just...