By Joe Morey
In January of this year, Tribal Governing Board (TGB) member Tweed Shuman announced the tribe was considering hemp production after the U.S. Congress passed the 2018 Farm Bill on December 18, 2018, which eliminated hemp as an illegal substance under the Controlled Substances Act and provided for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to establish a domestic hemp production program.
At the time, Shuman said they originally hoped to have an ordinance drafted to present to the USDA for the tribes hemp plans, but they had to wait until the USDA had published a rule for domestic hemp production in the Federal Register, which was finally done on October 31, 2019.
LCO TGB member Gary “Little Guy” Clause said there is a lot to do to get ready for production.
“We can’t just throw seeds out there, it’s not that simple,” Little Guy said. “We need a controlled environment.”
Chairman Louis Taylor said if the membership wants to move forward with hemp, “It’s going to be a lot of investment and a lot of risk. It’s going to about $400,000. We have good soil, great fields, but a lot of tribes are going with greenhouses.”
Little Guy said the tribe is gearing up for marijuana.
“We can do both,” Little Guy added. “Tribes out west are making money right now on marijuana.”
Little Guy explained in the state of Wisconsin we are all in the same boat.
“We are a sovereign nation so we want to be separate from the states, but we have to go through the USDA,” Little Guy said. “This is going to be a money maker, but it’s going to take some investment.”
According to the USDA, the requirements for inclusion in a tribe’s regulatory plan under the 2018 Farm Bill are as follows;
Tribal plans must contain a process in which relevant information regarding land used for hemp production is collected and retained;
Tribal plans must also include procedures or testing and sampling hemp to ensure the plants grown and harvested do not exceed the legal THC level for hemp;
Plants that are produced in violation of the 2018 Farm Bill and the Rule, must be disposed of by the tribe. The Rule states that the disposal must be in compliance with DEA and CSA regulations, as the plant would technically constitute marijuana;
Tribal plans must also include enforcement procedures such as the requirement to conduct annual random sampling of hemp producers to verify hemp is not being produced in violation of the 2018 Farm Bill or Rule, and a plan to handle violations;
Tribes must also report certain information to the USDA, such as the contact information for each producer under the tribal plan, the reported legal description and geospatial location of hemp production and the licensee number. The information collected by the USDA from tribes and states will be maintained and made available to federal, state, and local law enforcement as required in the 2018 Farm Bill;
Tribal plans must be accompanied with a certification stating that the tribe has the resources and personnel necessary to carry out the practices and procedures described in the plan;
The USDA will provide technical assistance in developing plans. After the effective date of the Rule, the USDA will have 60 days upon receipt of a plan to review and approve or deny such plan.
The following are 2019 published articles related to the tribe’s hemp production plan.