For Immediate Release
Friday, December 16, 2005
David Frankel 808-870-0990 or Alex White Plume 605-455-1142
Federal Judge Calls DEA's Views
on Hemp Farming 'Asinine' in Case Over Industrial Hemp
& Tribal Sovereignty
ST. LOUIS, MO —
On Monday, Dec. 12 lawyers Bruce Ellison and David Frankel,
representing Alex White Plume and his family of the
Lakota Nation who live on the Pine Ridge Reservation,
made oral arguments in the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court
of Appeals in front of a three-judge panel to reverse
efforts by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration
(DEA) to place an injunction preventing the White Plumes
from growing industrial hemp. In what has been deemed
a sovereignty case that is very uniquely framed, the
White Plumes planted industrial hemp on their family
land for three seasons only to have it cut down and
confiscated by DEA agents.
During the oral arguments it became clear
that Judge Kermit Bye and Judge Arlen Beam were focused
on two issues: (1) the irrationality of allowing the
exempt parts of the plant to be imported into the U.S.
but not allowing industrial hemp to be grown in the
U.S. and (2) the lack of any rational permitting process
by the DEA. While the Government's case was made, Judge
Beam commented, "It seems asinine to me that they
can bring in the Canadian stuff and use it but can't
grow it." Beam also suggested that it did not make
sense that Congress would try to make the economy of
Native American tribes more enhanced by casino gambling
but not allow industrial hemp cultivation.
The White Plumes assert their right to
raise non-psychoactive industrial hemp as an exercise
of their sovereign rights pursuant to an Oglala Sioux
Tribal ordinance enacted to secure rights guaranteed
by the Treaties of 1851 and 1868 signed between the
Lakota Nation and the U.S. Nevertheless, the U.S. government
maintains that its asserted "trust responsibility"
gives it the final authority to decide appropriate uses
of reservation lands.
The federal government filed a civil suit
against the White Plumes in U.S. District Court in South
Dakota, despite the facts that the Lakota were growing
hemp for seed and fiber when they entered into the treaties
with the U.S. government and that industrial hemp is
legally imported into the U.S. from dozens of countries
to feed the explosive domestic and global demand for
nutritious omega-3-rich hemp
foods and ecological hemp fiber products. The DEA
sought a permanent injunction to prevent the White Plumes
from growing industrial hemp without federal permission
because the DEA has placed a de facto ban on non-psychoactive
industrial hemp farming in the U.S. by treating it as
if the crop were the same as drug/medical marijuana.
Late last December, the court granted the government's
motion for summary judgment, which led to the appeal
to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.
"The District Court completely ignored
relevant Indian law, the treaties, the Constitution
and the significance of the Myerle Papers when they
granted the government's motion for summary judgment,"
says David Frankel, attorney and Vote Hemp board member.
"Because federal Indian law allows
tribes to continue doing something today that they were
doing at the time they signed treaties with the U.S.
government, the Lakota have an excellent chance at reversal,"
notes Ken Friedman, local counsel for the Hemp
Industries Association (HIA) and Vote Hemp, who
submitted their amicus brief in the White Plume case.
A decision in the case is expected in
2006. To read about the White Plume case and download
the Vote Hemp and HIA amicus brief, please visit our
Legal Cases section.
For more information on industrial hemp,
please visit www.VoteHemp.com, the Web site of Vote
Hemp, a non-profit organization dedicated to the acceptance
of industrial hemp.