Federal Judge Allows Minnesota Farmer’s Lawsuit Over Revoked License
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Federal Judge Allows Minnesota Farmer’s Lawsuit Over Revoked License

After demanding an evidentiary hearing over his revoked license, farmer Luis Hummel sued the state’s department of agriculture.

January 3, 2020

In 2019, products allegedly derived from Luis Hummel’s hemp crop at 5th Sun Gardens in Lanesboro, Minn., tripped the state testing threshold for THC content. Hummel, licensed under an industrial hemp pilot program that was sanctioned by the 2014 Farm Bill, is fighting back against the state’s enforcement of that rule.

In March of that year, local sheriff’s deputy had stopped a driver who was transporting hemp-derived products (wax and “vape tips”) allegedly sourced from Hummel’s farm. Those products tested at 3.6% and 3.11% THC content, according to the state, but Hummel has since asserted that his crops passed state testing. The state then revoked Hummel’s hemp license. Hummel demanded an evidentiary hearing—a right to due process.

That hearing was denied, and Hummel went on to file a lawsuit against the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA). On Jan. 2, 2020, a federal judge ruled that, yes, Hummel may proceed with his lawsuit. Judge Patrick Schiltz wrote that the Minnesota Department of Agriculture had limited its own ability to revoke licenses and that when the department chooses to do so, it must then go on to prove that licensees violated certain aspects of the pilot program.

“By identifying—repeatedly and in detail—the circumstances under which MDA can revoke a license, the [memorandum of understanding] implicitly limits MDA’s authority to revoke a license to those circumstances,” Schiltz wrote. “Put differently, if MDA had unfettered discretion to revoke licenses, then these provisions would serve no purpose other than to mislead participants into believing that MDA did not have such discretion.”

Read the full order below.

From there, the judge approached a constitutional property argument, writing that Hummel had a protected property interest in the actual hemp license that the state revoked. “Because MDA’s discretion to revoke was limited, Hummel had more than ‘a unilateral expectation’ that his license would remain effective under the end of the calendar year,” Schiltz wrote. “Instead, Hummel had a property interest protected under the Fourteenth Amendment.”

Hummel’s lawsuit will continue in federal court.

In a separate county-level criminal case, Hummel has been charged with fifth-degree drug sales, felony possession of a controlled substance and gross misdemeanor fifth-degree drug possession.


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