Alex White Plume asks court for permission to plant hemp crop

Alex White Plume. Photo from The Flying Cloud Eco-DiscoveryTour

Alex White Plume, a former president and vice president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, is gearing up for another court battle over his hemp operation on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

White Plume is asking a federal judge to lift an injunction that prevents him from growing the crop. He's being represented by Tim Purdon, the former U.S. Attorney from North Dakota.

“There is no reason that an industrial hemp farmer on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation should be treated differently than an industrial hemp farmer in Kentucky,” Purdon said in a press release. “We are hopeful the court will lift this injunction, which is a relic from an old, failed era of industrial hemp regulation.”

The Oglala Sioux Tribe has legalized hemp for industrial purposes. Federal law, however, does not recognize a distinction between the plant and marijuana, a close relative, even though only the latter comes with drug-inducing characteristics.

At the same time, hemp is not entirely illegal in the U.S. Under Section 7606 of H.R.2642, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2014, colleges and states can grow industrial hemp for research purposes.

The catch there is that the provision only applies to states where hemp is legal. South Dakota, which otherwise lacks jurisdiction in Indian Country, is not one of those states.

“With the relaxation of industrial hemp laws and policies, many researchers and commercial farmers across the United States are growing industrial hemp, including at the University of Kentucky," Purdon said. "With this motion, we’re seeking to ensure equal treatment for an American Indian industrial hemp farmer and to stand up for tribal sovereignty."

Get the Story:
Lakota Hemp Farmer Fights For The Right To Plant (South Dakota Public Radio 7/30)
Ex-US attorney wants feds to allow hemp on Pine Ridge (AP 7/30)

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