Law | National

BIA looked for hemp while Menominee Nation chair was at NCAI

Menominee Nation Chairman Gary Besaw, center, in Wisconsin earlier this year. Photo from Bob Hague / Wisconsin Radio Network / Twitter

A search warrant and affidavit offer new details about the federal government's raid of the industrial hemp operation on the Menominee Nation of Wisconsin.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Drug Enforcement Agency went to the reservation on October 19 and asked for Chairman Gary Besaw. But he was in San Diego, California, for the National Congress of American Indians annual convention so they met with Vice Chair Ruth Waupoose, who granted them permission to search the operation.

Documents filed in federal court describe a barn and an open field with more than 15,000 plants. But the DEA agent who signed the affidavit did not offer conclusive proof that the tribe was growing marijuana, instead of hemp.

The two plants are related but only marijuana registers high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol. Yet the BIA agent who ran random tests on the Menominee samples on October 21 said they came back "negative," according to the DEA.

Test for hashish and hash oil came back "negative," according to the affidavit. A second batch of tests on October 22, however, came back "positive."

There is no explanation for the difference even though the tests were run on the same samples.

The agents from the DEA and the BIA were able to search the barn and open field without hindrance from the tribe, according to the documents. They also freely talked to someone working there who has experience in growing hemp and marijuana.

But because that person, who is identified as Brian Goldstein of 3C Comprehensive Cannabis Consulting, is non-Indian and from another state, the DEA agent cast aspersions on his presence on the reservation. The affidavit claims he would not fall under tribal jurisdiction without explaining the tribe's laws governing employees or hemp production.

"Due to Brian Goldstein being from Colorado and not being Native American Indian, he was in clear violation of federal law and Wisconsin state law," the affidavit reads.

Federal agents went back to the reservation on Friday, October 23, and ended up destroying the tribe's crops. No one, though, has been charged with any crimes.

Get the Story:
DEA Raid on Tribe's Cannabis Crop Infuriates and Confuses Reformers (US News and World Report 10/26)

Relevant Documents:
Department of Justice Policy Statement Regarding Marijuana Issues in Indian Country (October 2014)

Related Stories:
Menominee Nation slams DEA raid of industrial hemp operation (10/26)
Menominee Nation supports marijuana in advisory referendum (08/21)
Menominee Nation prepares for referendum on legal marijuana (08/17)
Menominee Nation schedules referendum on legal marijuana (07/14)

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