7. CHRONICLE AM: ONE WEEK TO OH VOTE, DEA RAIDS MENOMINEE HEMP GROW,
IRANIANS FOR LEGALIZATION???, MORE (10/27/15)
Menominee tribal officials are scratching their heads after the DEA cut
down their hemp crop, Ohio votes on legalization in one week, some new
federal sentencing statistics are out, the Iranians may be thinking
about legalizing marijuana and/or opium, and more. http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2015/oct/27/chronicle_am_one_week_oh_vote_de
The DEA says the plants were marijuana plants; the tribe says they were
hemp plants. In either case, tribal officials and marijuana reform
advocates don't understand why the grow was raided. Even if it were
marijuana, it appears to be an operation well within Justice Department guidelines. And that's leading to some pointed questions about whether
the feds have one standard for pot-legal states and another for the
The memo that allows for marijuana commerce on the reservation includes
eight potential enforcement triggers first formulated in a 2013 Justice Department memo (http://www.justice.gov/iso/opa/resources/3052013829132756857467.pdf)
(the Cole memo) advising federal prosecutors to lay off of recreational
and medical marijuana operations in states where they are legal. Those
triggers include diversion to other localities, money going to organized
crime, and violence associated with the trade, among others.
The raid came after the tribe allowed a Bureau of Indian Affairs
employee and local police to inspect the operation and take plant
samples. And that visit came after a meeting between the BIA agent, the
local cops, and an assistant US attorney.
According to the DEA affidavit for a search warrant, the samples tested positive for "marijuana," although there was no measurement of THC
levels in the plants.
Industrial hemp is high in fiber, but low in THC, with levels at 0.3% or
less. Pot produced for the recreational market, by contrast, typically
has THC levels of 15% to 20% and beyond. There is a possibility some of
the plants could exceed the 0.3% limit, but not by much.
The DEA affidavit also attempted to make a case that the hemp grow was violating those Justice Department triggers. The tribe had hired
Colorado cannabis consultant Brian Goldstein to consult on its grow, and Goldstein, along with Tribal Chairwoman Ruth Wapoose, had in fact guided
the feds and the local cops on their tour of the operation.
But Goldstein was "white," the affidavit noted, and several other people present appeared "non-native," and some vehicles had Colorado plates.
This, the affidavit somewhat tortuously argued, violated the memo's
provision about diversion from states where marijuana is legal to those
where it is not. It seems to claim that hiring a cannabis consultant
from a legal state is equivalent to importing pot from that state.
The affidavit also stretched to assert the operation was setting off
other enforcement triggers. The lack of ventilation in a drying room "is
a health and safety concern for the community and the individuals
associated with the operation, which is a violation of the enumerated priorities listed in the Cole memorandum regarding adverse public health concerns of marijuana cultivation," it argued.
But drying hemp stalks in closed barns is standard practice and is used
by farmers around the country, including those who produced legal hemp
crops this year in Colorado and Kentucky.
And security personnel guarding the property had guns, leading the BIA
agent to question "the ability for the security team to have weapons for protection because it would violate the Cole memorandum."
Now, the grow has been destroyed, any decision on criminal prosecution
is in the hands of federal prosecutors, and the tribe and other
observers are wondering just what is going on. After all, the Menominee
aren't the only tribe to take the Justice Department at its word, only
to be raided down the road.
This past summer, the DEA hit two California tribes, the Pit River Tribe
and the Alturas Indian Rancheria, seizing 12,000 plants. The feds
alleged Cole memorandum violations including financing from a foreign entrepreneur and fears the marijuana would be distributed outside the reservations in ways that violated the state's medical marijuana law.
And the US attorney in South Dakota a month earlier refused to agree to
lift an injunction barring Oglala Sioux tribal member Alex White Plume
from growing hemp, which the Oglala Sioux Nation has legalized.
Are the tribes being held to a different standard than states where it
is legal? Has there been a policy shift at Justice? Are individual
federal prosecutors going off the reservation?
Menominee Tribal Chairman Gary Besaw doesn't know, but he isn't happy
"I am deeply disappointed that the Obama administration has made the
decision to utilize the full force of the DEA to raid our Tribe," he
said in a statement after the raid. "We offered to take any differences
in the interpretation of the farm bill to federal court. Instead, the
Obama administration sent agents to destroy our crop while allowing recreational marijuana in Colorado. I just wish the President would
explain to tribes why we can't grow industrial hemp like the states, and
even more importantly, why we don't deserve an opportunity to make our
argument to a federal judge rather than having our community raided by
"The DEA action in this case is egregious, excessive and presents an
unjust prejudice against Indian Country and the rights of sovereign
tribal nations," he said. "The Menominee Indian Tribe cultivated their industrial hemp in accordance with Federal Law, per the legislation put
forth in the Farm Bill. This is a step backward, at a time when great
progress has otherwise been made toward legalizing and regulating
industrial hemp cultivation."
"How can you allow people to buy marijuana in a retail environment in
some states and then raid an industrial hemp operation of a tribe? The
only difference is that there is a tribe involved," he said. "This odd
federal policy of encouraging investment and then raiding the new
business sets us back a few decades in federal tribal trust and economic policy."
The raids against tribal pot operations will kill investment in such
ventures, Morgan said.
"The new federal policy of 'sort of' allowing tribes to get into the
marijuana business is especially cruel and unusual because it encourages investment, but after the investment is made the federal government
comes and shuts it down and the investors lose all their money."
Tribal law expert and former head of New York's Seneca Nation Robert
Odawi Porter agreed that there is at least the appearance of a double
"This certainly suggests a real divergence in policy approach for Indian country," compared to the pot-legal states, which have been allowed to
develop enormous marijuana industries, he said. "It increasingly looks
like the Justice Department guidelines are not being interpreted in the
same way as they were intended."
It seems like the Justice Department has some explaining and clarifying
to do. Can the tribes participate in the new marijuana economy like that states, or not? And does the DEA accept the legal definition and status
of hemp? If not, why?
bliss -- Cacao Powered... (-SF4ever at DSLExtreme dot com)
bobbie sellers - a retired nurse in San Francisco
"It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
It is by the beans of cacao that the thoughts acquire speed,
the thighs acquire girth, the girth become a warning.
It is by theobromine alone I set my mind in motion."
--from Someone else's Dune spoof ripped to my taste.