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.