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ND: Judge Lifts Decade-Old Injunction Against Hemp Farmer

Robert Celt

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A federal judge on Monday lifted a decade-old injunction prohibiting a South Dakota tribal member from producing industrial hemp, although other issues need to be resolved before he can grow it on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Viken of South Dakota said there has been a "shifting legal landscape" since the 2004 order was filed against Alex White Plume, an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. That includes a change in hemp laws in the 2014 farm bill and legalization of marijuana in some states.

White Plume's lawyer, former U.S. attorney from North Dakota Timothy Purdon, said the order is a victory for both White Plume and tribal sovereignty.

"This order brings some justice to Native America's first modern day hemp farmer," Purdon said. "For over 10 years, Alex White Plume has been subject to a one-of-a-kind injunction which prevented him from farming hemp."

Federal prosecutors in South Dakota could not be reached for comment.

The order does not resolve the ongoing question of whether cultivation of hemp on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, in southwestern South Dakota, should be legal. Purdon said Viken's order should further the discussion on whether the Oglala tribe is being treated unfairly under a farm bill that allows states to produce hemp under certain circumstances.

Hemp can be used to make clothing, lotion and many other products, but growing it has been illegal under federal law because it is a type of cannabis plant and looks like marijuana. The White Plume family, including Alex and his brother, Percy, planted hemp on the reservation for three years from 2000 through 2002, but never harvested a crop. Federal agents conducted raids and cut down the plants each year.

Viken said the key to his opinion is the "shifting national focus" on industrial hemp as a viable agricultural crop and the decision by the U.S. attorney general to open dialogue with several tribes regarding the farm bill and a 2013 federal memo that outlined the federal government's priorities in pursing marijuana cases.

News Moderator: Robert Celt 420 MAGAZINE ®
Full Article: ND: Judge Lifts Decade-Old Injunction Against Hemp Farmer
Author: Dave Kolpack
Contact: The Washington Times
Photo Credit: None found
Website: The Washington Times


Member of the Month: May 2009, Oct 2010, Sept 2017
I came across an article about Alex White Plume on the South Dakota Public Radio Website. Does anyone know if he managed to grow hemp last year?

SDPB Radio said:
Oglala Lakota hemp farmer Alex White Plume says he wants to harvest the wild hemp seeds growing on his land and plant a new crop next year.

In the late 1990’s the Oglala Sioux Tribe legalized industrial hemp, but when White Plume tried to grow it, federal agents seized his crop.

White Plume has been under a federal injunction prohibiting him from growing the crop, but that injunction was recently lifted.

Hemp is hard to kill. Federal Agents confiscated the crop Alex White Plume planted more than 15 years ago –but some of those seeds remained and now grow wild on his property.

“Well I went down there yesterday, as soon as I heard this, because I used to shy away from my own hemp field. And there is hemp just now coming out of the ground in the original DEA FBI Hemp field we call it,” says White Plume with a laugh.

White Plume shied away from his own field because of a federal injunction that came during a long court battle following the confiscation of his crop. White Plume says he’s consulting with his attorneys soon, but he believes the tribe’s legalization of hemp protects his right to grow.

“I’m not really worried about the feds coming in again to take hemp. If it was marijuana that would be a different story, but it’s time that people recognized hemp as a solution to a of the issues taking place with our environment. We respected the restraining order and just stood on the sidelines for the last 15 years. But now it’s time to allow us our sovereign rights,” says White Plume

White Plume’s Attorney Tim Purdon says the ruling is narrow and doesn’t necessarily mean he can begin hemp farming right away.

“It’s interesting Alex White Plume is one of the pioneers of the modern industrial hemp movement. And the Farm Bill in 2014 opened the door for virtually all Americans being able to explore under the terms of the Farm Bill a narrow exception to the controlled substances act to grow industrial hemp. All Americans except Alex White Plume, and now this order simply returns Alex to the same position as everyone else in the country,” says Purdon.

Purdon is fighting a separate tribal hemp case in Wisconsin against the United States Department of Justice. He says the DOJ must recognize a tribe's sovereign right to legalize and grow hemp under the Farm Bill. Officials with the U.S. Attorney’s office in South Dakota have no comment on the case.
Aside from the (IMHO) "general" injustice of the thing, it is my belief that, if someone is prohibited from doing a thing because that thing was determined to be illegal... The very instant that the thing is determined to not be illegal, that person's restriction should be automatically lifted - with no court appearance, administrative ruling, or even paperwork required.
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