A statue of Sarah Winnemucca, who fought for the rights of Native people in the 1800s, represents the state of Nevada at the U.S. Capitol. Photo: TCDavis
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Winnemucca Indian Colony files lawsuit over raid of hemp grow in California

The Winnemucca Indian Colony is conjuring up Christopher Columbus in a lawsuit that challenges a raid of its hemp farm in California.

According to the lawsuit, authorities from Stockton County and the Drug Enforcement Agency removed hemp from tribally-owned land on October 10. That was one day after Columbus Day.

"On that day and the days preceding it, county acted with a degree of moral repugnance this country hasn’t seen for over a century and a half, in manner about which every non-native American should feel ashamed and embarrassed," the amended complaint reads.

The tribe's reservation is based in Winnemucca, Nevada. But the hemp grow occurred more than 350 miles away, in an unincorporated area of Stockton County in California.

In the complaint, the tribe describes that 250-acre site as "fee land." Hemp was being grown on a 26-acre portion of the site, the lawsuit states.

Hemp, like its close relative marijuana, is considered illegal under federal law. But a provision in the 2014 Farm Bill authorizes production in states where it has been legalized.

California legalized hemp and the tribe argues its operation, even though it is not on trust land, is legal. But the state has yet to get its industrial hemp program off the ground so no entities are officially allowed to grow the plant.

The county has passed a temporary ban on hemp, while regulations are being developed to address the plant, The Stockton Record reported. The paper posted a copy of the original complaint, before an amended complaint was filed on Monday.

Interest in hemp and marijuana is strong in Indian Country. But only a few tribes have been able to enter the industry without being raided by state and federal authorities.

The Colville Tribes are one of the success stories. The tribe's on-reservation hemp farm, which has been licensed by Washington, is producing its first crops, The Tribal Tribune reported. Washington has legalized hemp under the provisions of the 2014 Farm Bill

The Las Vegas Paiute Tribe has opened a large marijuana retail store on its reservation in Nevada. The state has legalized the plant for recreational and medicinal purposes.

Read More on the Story:
Tribal group sues San Joaquin County over hemp grow (KCRA October 30, 2017)
Hemp farmers sue San Joaquin County, claim plants for ‘research’ were illegally removed (The Stockton Record October 30, 2017)
Colville Tribe’s first hemp harvest is a success, officials say (The Tribal Tribune October 30, 2017)
Native American tribe opens huge pot store near Fremont Street in Las Vegas (The Los Angeles Times October 31, 2017)

Related Stories:
Las Vegas Paiute Tribe already looking for ways to expand new marijuana operation (October 25, 2017)
St. Croix Chippewa Tribe announces plan for cannabidiol business in Wisconsin (September 27, 2017)
White Earth Nation looks to diversify economy with first hemp crop on reservation (August 9, 2017)
Colville Tribes start hemp cultivation and marketing project in Washington (July 31, 2017)