US criticized for hemp raid
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On Tuesday, Presidential candidate Ralph Nader and former Oglala Lakota Tribal Council President Joe American Horse criticized the federal government for raiding a hemp farm on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and for preventing American farmers from growing the crop.

"The Drug Enforcement Administration and other federal agencies are greatly out of touch with the American public in enforcing their medieval rules regarding industrial hemp," Nader said in Washington, DC.

On August 24, about 25 armed agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the US Marshals Service, and the Northern Plains Safe Trails Drug Task Force conducted an early morning raid on two hemp farms on the reservation. Almost 4,000 plants were reported taken in the raid.

Alex White Plume, the owner of one of the plots, said the hemp was going to be used in a housing project on the reservation. Hemp can be used to create a product known as "hempcrete" and tribal members have built houses using the material.

Joe American Horse is the project manager for the housing initiative, known as the Slim Butte Land Use Association. Like many in the tribe, American Horse considers growing hemp a sovereign right guaranteed to them by the Sioux Nation Treaty of 1868.

"The people used to have the buffalo for our food, clothing and shelter," said American Horse at the planting of hemp seeds in April, on the 132nd anniversary of the treaty. "Now, hemp can do that for us."

In 1998, the tribal council passed its own laws making a distinction between industrial hemp and its more illicitly-used relative, marijuana. However, the United States makes no such differentiation and hemp cannot be grown in the country without special permits, which the housing project's lawyer says are difficult to obtain and costly to maintain.

The state of Hawaii began its own hemp project last year. The DEA previously opposed the project and imposes strict security measures on hemp growing.

Hemp also belongs to the same family as marijuana and both contain certain levels of THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, which gives users its characteristic "high." White Plume said his crop was tested by the University of Mississippi and reported that no THC was detected.

Tribal members have made no secret of their hemp planting efforts and have been alerting press and authorities since April. An agent from the Bureau of Indian Affairs visited White Plume's farm in July.

No one was arrested in the August raid, although punishment for growing 1,000 or more plants is 10 years to life. Government officials are not commenting on the case.

Relevant Links:
The Slim Butte Land Use Association (SBLUA) -
Lakota Hemp -