I will never forget the first time I heard about the plight of Alex White Plum and the Lakota Nation, and their problems with the United States government in regards to trying to grow hemp. In the 2000’s, the Lakota Nation decided to legalize hemp production because they thought it would be a good crop. The Native American tribe needed a solid source of income to support tribe members, and growing hemp seemed like a good idea. Hemp is very versatile, grows fast, doesn’t require as much as other crops, and it’s completely harmless if consumed.
However, the United States government did not allow hemp cultivation, and even though the Lakota tribe is a sovereign nation, the feds came in, cut down the plants, and ordered Alex White Plume and his tribe to never grow hemp again. Political fears of reform were so great that the federal government treated a sovereign nation like they were criminals. That is obviously unacceptable.
Fairly recently the Obama Administration issued guidance on the issue of Native American tribes and hemp and marijuana cultivation and sales, which was celebrated by many in the reform community as an enormous victory. Tribes should absolutely be able to grow hemp and/or marijuana on their lands, and do whatever they want with it on their lands. After all, they are supposed to be sovereign nations. But, despite the guidance from the Obama Administration, raids have continued on tribal land. The latest of which occurred on the Menominee tribe’s land located in Wisconsin. Per US News:
Federal agents swarmed the Menominee Indian tribe’s Wisconsin reservation Friday and eradicated 30,000 cannabis plants, confusing and alarming tribal leaders, policy reformers and attorneys who work with other American Indian tribes considering growing marijuana or hemp.
Menominee leaders say the plants were intended for lawful research into growing industrial hemp, which is processed and utilized for fiber, food and oil and is distinguishable from marijuana by its lower levels of the high-inducing compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Regardless of if the plants were marijuana or hemp should not matter. The Obama Administration stated that if tribes wanted to grow and/or sell marijuana on tribal lands, that they should be allowed to do so. So why are DEA agents, again, defying the administration and going after tribes on tribal land? This is absolutely disgusting. The DEA needs to be reigned in, and there needs to be a Congressional hearing during which some very tough questions are asked and people at the DEA are held accountable. Native American tribes are sovereign nations, and the current administration has said that they should be treated as such. Close down the DEA!