The U.S. Department of Agriculture has received applications to grow industrial hemp from the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe and Oglala Sioux Tribe in South Dakota.
These tribes are taking action as Governor Kristi Noem keeps her stance against the cultivation of the crop in the state. Since the tribes are sovereign nations, they do not have to follow the direction of the state. The historical precedent supports the idea that the tribes need to follow the direction of the federal government and not the state.
Since the release of the process for applying for USDA approval was released, many different states have already submitted plans to be approved. Among the applicants are 11 tribes and 11 states so far that have submitted applications. According to the NCSL, there are currently 47 states that have a hemp cultivation plan enacted. These states are all starting to work through the process of following the federal guidelines to keep their programs legal.
Outside the borders of the tribes, state laws still apply. Interstate transport of hemp is recognized by the federal government as legal, a fact that South Dakota has disputed in the past.
The governor is worried that legalizing hemp will legalize marijuana by default and plans to veto any bill that makes it to her desk. This may hamper advocates of cannabis as they try to push several measures through the South Dakota legislature in 2020.
This is not the first time that the tribe in Flandreau has tried to get into the cannabis trade. Several years ago, they attempted to build a marijuana resort. The operation faltered when the Attorney General argued that they had illegally imported seeds from the Netherlands and then illegally grew the products. The tribe ended up burning the crop to prevent the possibility of a federal raid.