Native American Tribes Look to Cash In on Hemp, but Will the Feds Let Them?

By Cecily Hilleary


WASHINGTON – The 2018 Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp and gave Native American tribes, as sovereign entities, the same rights as states to control and regulate its production.  This month, tribal farmers across the nation will harvest their first legitimate crop, hoping to cash in on a global market worth billions of dollars. But whether their product will make it to market this year is still up in the air.

In early June, Oglala Lakota tribe member Alex White Plume gathered together three generations of his extended family to plant their first-ever legal industrial hemp crop on land he owns on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

After fighting for two decades for the right to grow hemp, it was a joyful occasion, marked by prayer and song. But as the summer draws to a close, White Plume has grown increasingly anxious.

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