Menominee Nation: Industrial Hemp Crop Destroyed by Federal Agents Friday

A statement from Gary Besaw, Chairman of the Menominee Nation reports that today, “Federal Agents improperly and unnecessarily entered the sovereign lands of the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin and destroyed the Tribe’s industrial hemp crop.”

The Menominee and other Wisconsin tribes have previously voted to explore cannabis and hemp cultivation under the federal Cole Memo, issued by federal authorities last year.

The release includes this response to the federal actions from Chairman Besaw:

“I am deeply disappointed that the Obama administration has made the decision to utilize the full force of the DEA to raid our Tribe. We were attempting to grow industrial hemp for research purposes in accordance with the farm bill. We offered to take any differences in the interpretation of the farm bill to federal court. Instead, the Obama administration sent agents to destroy our crop while allowing recreational marijuana in Colorado. I just wish the President would explain to tribes why we can’t grow industrial hemp like the states, and even more importantly, why we don’t deserve an opportunity to make our argument to a federal judge rather than having our community raided by the DEA?”

The release states tribal officials had been transparent with the U.S. Attorney’s Office throughout this process and had  numerous face-to-face meetings with former U.S. Attorney Jim Santelle and current Acting U.S. Attorney Greg Haanstad about this industrial hemp crop and the Tribe’s intention to grow the crop legally under the 2014 Farm Bill.

The Tribe invited Federal Law Enforcement to observe and to test the industrial hemp crop at various stages throughout the process. In fact, Bureau of Indian Affairs Agents drew samples of the industrial hemp crop for final testing during harvest earlier this week.

“The actions by the federal government here are very troubling. The issue here is not the more controversial one of recreational marijuana — like the kind being sold from store fronts in Denver and Seattle. Nor even is it medical cannabis that is being prescribed and consumed in dozens of States. We are talking about industrial hemp and a crop that was legalized by the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, was being grown on Tribal lands for research purposes under an agreement with College of the Menominee Nation and was always intended to be a legal crop under the 2014 Farm Bill.” — Tim Purdon, Partner at Robins Kaplan LLP, former United States Attorney for North Dakota, former Chair of then-Attorney General Eric Holder’s Native American Issues Subcommittee, and a lawyer for the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin.

Green Bay Fox11 reports: “Federal, state, and local law enforcement, along with tribal police, were in a field just west of Suring, in Menominee County, for much of the day Friday.

Dump trucks have been going in and out of the field. Bulldozers have been filling the trucks up with piles of plants. According to the Menominee Tribe, the plants are the tribe’s industrial hemp crop.”

Meanwhile, AB 215, bipartisan Wisconsin hemp legislation remains stuck in the Committee on State Affairs and Government Operations with no hearings scheduled at this time.

Read the full from Menominee Chairman Besaw statement here.

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