Legal hemp coming to Lakota country?

Posted on December 19th, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , , .

South DakotaThe new Justice Department policy to take a hands-off approach to cannabis cultivation on Indian reservations could be a boon for the Lakota Sioux, who have long been pressing their right as a sovereign nation to grow industrial hemp. US Attorney for North Dakota Timothy Purdon (who is also the US Attorney General's pointman for Native American issues) told AP he's not aware of any tribes in either North or South Dakota actively considering a cannabis industry. The tribal council of the Oglala Lakota Nation this year rejected a proposal to allow cannabis cultivation on the Pine Ridge Reservation in southwest South Dakota. The council's Law and Order Committee chair Ellen Fills the Pipe said: "For me, it's a drug. My gut feeling is we're most likely going to shoot it down." (The San Francisco Chronicle's cannabis-friendly Smell the Truth blog couldn't help noting the irony of her name, but also acknowledged fears, realistic or not, that rez pot sales could excacerbate already existing alcohol abuse problems.) But that's the smokable variety, not the industrial. Chairman Dave Archambault of the Standing Rock Sioux, with a reservation straddling North and South Dakota, said that his tribe might consider industrial hemp cultivation.

As The Weed Blog recalls, in 2001 then-president of the Oglala Lakota Nation John Yellow Bird Steele wrote a letter to then-US Attorney for South Dakoat Michelle Tapken, asserting the Indian nation's right to grow industrial hemp under provisions of the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868. In November 2014 elections, Yellow Bird Steele was again elected tribal president—a good sign for hemp advocates at Pine Ridge. Foremost among these advocates is Alex White Plume (himself a former tribal president), who grew hemp on his Pine Ridge farm until it was raided by the DEA in 2000—two years after the tribe passed an ordinance allowing hemp cultivation. While the court would not impose the 10-year prison sentence sought by prosecutors, White Plume was barred by federal court order from growing hemp for life. But his dream lives on. In October 2014, he travelled to Boulder to be specially honored at Grow Hemp Colorado's Industrial Hemp Awards and Festival, as The Cannabist noted.

Native American activist Winona LaDuke (Ojibwe) of the group Honor the Earth has proposed hemp as an alternative to the Keystone pipeline, which would cut through Lakota lands to bring tar-sands oil down from Canada. In a commentary for Indian Country Today Media Network, she wrote: "It's anticipated that we will spend 20 percent of world GDP on climate related disasters by 2020. We might want to avert that by not pillaging the tar sands (with 240 gigatons of carbon under some pristine ecosystems). Instead we might want to concentrate on infrastructure for people and future generations. North Dakota, for instance could be the largest exporter of wind and hemp oil in North America..."

Industrial hemp cultivation has been legal in North Dakota for a decade, and the federal farm bill passed in February 2014 clears the way for research plots in the state, as Prairie Business reported at the time. The North Dakota Agriculture Department has a webpage on the state hemp program. Advocates in South Dakota are still pushing for hemp legislation in the state, according to the Vote Hemp website, which tracks such efforts nationwide.

Cross-post to High Times  

Image from the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection



Sioux tribe legalizes, South Dakota intransigent

Global Ganja Report's picture

The Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe of South Dakota voted to legalize the cultivation and use of cannabis on tribal land last week. The approved ordinance will "establish a facility where marijuana will be grown. Another location will offer marijuana for recreational use. The ordinance approves marijuana consumption only inside of a single facility that has yet to be determined. Officials describe the proposed facility to function similarly to a bar. Tribe officials said that marijuana will not be allowed to leave that location."

Cannabis cultivation and use is still against South Dakota law and the tribe's decision has many state officials concerned. "The use and possession of marijuana by any non-Indians still remains against the law and would be a misdemeanor. Similarly any time there is an impaired driving, whether it's alcohol related or marijuana related, would be a DUI under South Dakota law," Attorney General Marty Jackley said. (HT, June 17)

Comment by Global Ganja Report on Jun 18th, 2015 at 2:46 pm

Santee Sioux to open marijuana resort

Global Ganja Report's picture

The Santee Sioux tribe has announced the addition of a marijuana-themed resort to the successful casino, a 120-room hotel and a 240-head buffalo ranch it already runs on the South Dakota plains. Santee Sioux leaders plan to grow their own pot and sell it in a smoking lounge that includes a nightclub, arcade games, bar and food service, and eventually, slot machines and an outdoor music venue. "We want it to be an adult playground," tribal president Anthony Reider said. "There's nowhere else in American that has something like this." The project is expected to generate up to $2 million a month in profit, and work is already underway on the growing facility. The first joints are expected to go on sale Dec. 31 at a New Year's Eve party. (AP, Sept. 30)

Comment by Global Ganja Report on Oct 9th, 2015 at 6:58 pm

Judge lifts decade-old injunction against Lakota hemp farmer

Global Ganja Report's picture Federal Judge Jeffrey Viken on March 28 lifted a decade-old injunction prohibiting a South Dakota tribal member from producing industrial hemp, although other issues need to be resolved before he can grow it on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Viken said there has been a "shifting legal landscape" since the 2004 order was filed against Alex White Plume, an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. That includes a change in hemp laws in the 2014 farm bill and legalization of marijuana in some states.

"This order brings some justice to Native America’s first modern day hemp farmer," said attorney Timothy Purdon. "For over 10 years, Alex White Plume has been subject to a one-of-a-kind injunction which prevented him from farming hemp." The order does not resolve the ongoing question of whether cultivation of hemp on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation should be legal.

Purdon said Viken's order should spur discussion on whether the Oglala tribe is being treated unfairly under a farm bill that gives states a limited right to produce hemp. (AP, March 28)
Comment by Global Ganja Report on Mar 30th, 2016 at 1:28 am

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