Judge dismisses Menominee federal hemp suit

On Monday, a federal judge in Green Bay dismissed the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin’s lawsuit against two federal agencies over raids that destroyed industrial hemp crop on tribal land last fall.

The tribe had contended that tribal sovereignty allowed them to grow hemp on tribal lands. While U.S. District Judge William Griesbach agreed state law was not enforceable on Menominee lands in his 19-page decision, it’s location within the state means the tribe still has to adhere to state law:

“Congress has chosen to condition the hemp exception to the Controlled Substances Act on the laws of the states in which the proposed growing operations would occur. Wisconsin’s laws do not allow the growing and cultivation of hemp. It thus follows that the exception does not apply … While Wisconsin law is not enforceable on the Menominee Reservation, that does not change the fact that the growing or cultivating of industrial hemp is not allowed under the laws of the State of Wisconsin.”

The Menominee Tribe posted this statement on their website regarding the decision:

“(Keshena, WI) – The Menominee Indian Tribe has received the United States District Court for Eastern District of Wisconsin’s order granting the DEA’s motion to dismiss and denying the Tribe’s motion for summary judgment. The Tribe was seeking a judgement declaring that the cultivation of industrial hemp for agricultural/academic research purposes was lawful under the 2014 Farm Bill, 7 U.S.C. § 5940, which created an exemption to the Controlled Substances Act for the cultivation of hemp in certain circumstances. The decision was received late in the day on Monday May 23, 2016. The Tribe is disappointed with this recent setback that challenges our sovereignty as a Tribal Nation and inhibits our ability to pursue research initiatives exploring the viability of this versatile and sustainable crop. The Tribe is currently reviewing the decision to determine what options it may or may not pursue.”

Wisconsin bipartisan legislation to legalize hemp cultivation at the state level, 2015 AB 215, died in committee without a hearing despite two letters from the bill sponsor to the GOP committee chair begging for a public hearing.

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