Leaders of the St. Croix Chippewa Tribe, from left: Susan Lowe, Crystal Peterson, Lewis Taylor, Joyce Long and Elmer “Jay” Emery are sworn into office on July 10, 2017. Photo: The Vision
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St. Croix Chippewa Tribe announces plan for cannabidiol business in Wisconsin

The St. Croix Chippewa Tribe is moving forward with plans for a cannabidiol production and distribution business in Wisconsin.

The tribe just announced a comprehensive set of regulations to govern cannabidiol, which is typically derived from the cannabis plant. Elmer J. Emery, a council member, said the initiative will help citizens tap into the therapeutic and medicinal benefits of cannabidiol, also known as CBD, as well as provide jobs and revenues for the community.

“The control program adopted by St. Croix allows the tribe to move forward with production and distribution of cannabidiol on tribal lands in Wisconsin," Emery said in a press release on Wednesday. "It also authorizes the tribe to create a modern tribally owned and operated cannabidiol business which will not only provide medical cannabidiol to families and individuals in need, but also much needed jobs and industry in a county with one of the highest unemployment rates in the state.”

Cannabidiol has been legalized in Wisconsin for medicinal purposes. That could help the tribe avoid the problems that forced the Menominee Nation to shut down its hemp operation in the state.

Federal authorities otherwise consider cannabidiol to be illegal due to its connection to the cannabis plant, according to Drug Enforcement Administration. But the tribe is hoping a Department of Justice policy, as well as the state's stance, keeps its efforts in the clear despite a prior warning about producing CBD.

“The tribe has gone to great lengths to enact strict regulatory controls similar to regulatory programs utilized in other states legalizing cannabidiol, and ensure compliance with U.S. Department of Justice marijuana enforcement policies,” said Jeff Cormell, the tribe's general counsel.

Senate Bill 10, which Gov. Scott Walker (R) signed in April, updates what is known as Lydia's Law. The 2013 law was named for a young girl whose epilepsy was being treated with CBD prior to her death in 2014.

Preliminary studies have indicated that CBD can be used to treat epilepsy, according to
CNN. A patent granted to the Department of Health and Human Services cited its ability to address the effects of stroke, trauma and other diseases and conditions.

“St. Croix’s actions represent another major milestone in giving parents and children access to a potentially lifesaving treatment,” said Carmen Bugg, an elder with a relative that suffers from epilepsy. “Families need a safe, reliable distributor of cannabidiol and the tribe’s willingness to serve in that capacity is absolutely critical right now.”

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

Related Stories:
St. Croix Chippewa Tribe warned not to launch marijuana operation (June 24, 2016)