The Columbus Free Press

Sioux Indians vote to challenge DEA on hemp

by Tom Cook, Aug 2, 1998

Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, SD - Today in its regular quarterly session, the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council enacted historic legislation on industrial hemp. An ordinance amending the tribe's penal code relating to the plant was adopted by the vote of 8 - 4, reviving the legal distinction between industrial hemp and marijuana. "This sets the stage for land-based economic development on the reservation and probably a legal challenge by the tribe in federal court," observed Joe American Horse, spokesman for the ordinance.

Introduced through the judiciary committee, the legislation was debated for almost two hours before its adoption. "The council voted to support and endorse sound ideas put forth by community landowners," said Loretta Cook afterwards. She is president of the Slim Butte LUA (Land-Use Association) which had sought the measure over a two-year period.

The Ordinance was passed despite a letter to the tribe from the Drug Enforcement Administration claiming that industrial hemp cultivation would violate federal law. Supporters of the Ordinance cited a study by the Vermont state legislature revealing that more than 99% of the "marijuana" located and destroyed by the DEA (at an annual cost of $500 million) is actually feral industrial hemp having extremely low levels of THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) and no psychoactive potential. Much of the feral hemp escaped cultivation during World War II's Hemp for Victory campaign.

"The mere fact that hemp is growing wild is an inescapable reminder that industrial hemp was once a cornerstone of agriculture in America," said Thomas J. Ballanco, a West Point graduate and attorney who drafted the Ordinance. He also commented that, "Asking the DEA for advice about industrial hemp is like asking Donald Trump for advice about Indian gaming issues."

"Tribal sovereignty over land and precise language regarding the hemp plant are the issues involved," commented American Horse.

Tom Cook, Hemp Project Director
Slim Butte Land-Use Association
Tel: 308-432-2290

ORDINANCE N0. _______



WHEREAS the Oglala Sioux Tribe recognizes that industrial hemp is a safe and profitable commodity in the international marketplace and is grown in more than thirty countries including Canada, France, England, Russia, China, Germany and Australia, and

WHEREAS treaties signed between the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the United States government acknowledge that the tribe retains the right to grow food and fiber crops from the soil, and

WHEREAS the Oglala Sioux Tribe recognizes that industrial hemp was a viable and profitable crop grown in the Pine Ridge region when the treaties were entered between the United States and the Oglala Sioux Tribe, and

WHEREAS the Oglala Sioux Tribe seeks to develop sustainable, land-based, economic opportunities for tribal members, and

WHEREAS the Oglala Sioux Tribe recognizes that there is a consistent, predictable, genetically based difference between the varieties of Cannabis sativa that produce marijuana and those that produce industrial hemp and that the difference is based on the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol present in the plant, and

WHEREAS law enforcement agents and farmers can learn to readily distinguish between the different varieties of Cannabis sativa, and

WHEREAS the Oglala Sioux Tribe seeks to maintain its current policy of prohibiting the use and proliferation of marijuana on the reservation, and

WHEREAS international treaties and trade agreements including the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the North American Free Trade Agreement [NAFTA] and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade [GATT] specifically classify industrial hemp as a commodity that is separate and distinct from any narcotic, and

WHEREAS the law enforcement policies of the United States government are inconsistent, severely overburden industrial hemp agriculture, and do not adequately carry out the original intent of Congress regarding industrial hemp and marijuana; now

THEREFORE BE IT ORDAINED, that the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council does hereby expressly reserve and retain jurisdiction to enact legislation relating to industrial hemp agriculture and amends the Oglala Sioux Tribe Penal Code to clarify its policy allowing agricultural and economic development while retaining its existing policy against marijuana, and

BE IT FURTHER ORDAINED that any members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe who wish to harvest or cultivate industrial hemp must first organize, or join an existing, land use association. Each land use association making use of industrial hemp will then appoint, and arrange for the compensation of, a liaison who will file a quarterly report to the Land Committee of the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council, delineating with specificity the industrial hemp acreage to be cultivated and/or harvested, the end products to be manufactured and the progress since the previous report. The liaison will serve as the interface between the land use association, the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council and any interested law enforcement agencies, and

BE IT FURTHER ORDAINED that the Oglala Sioux Tribal Penal Code, Title 9, Section 106. - Marijuana and Section 106.00 - Controlled Drugs and Substances are amended as follows:

a) TITLE 9, SECTION 106. - MARIJUANA is amended to read:

Any Indian who shall plant, grow, cultivate, harvest or gather, sell, barter, or give away or have in possession any Marijuana shall be deemed guilty of an offense and upon conviction thereof, shall be sentenced to labor for a period not to exceed six (6) months, or to a fine not to exceed three hundred and sixty dollars ($360.00), or to both such fine and imprisonment, with costs.

b) The definition of "Marijuana" in TITLE 9, SECTION 106.00 (e) is amended to read:

"Marijuana" -- All parts of the plant of the genus Cannabis whether growing or not; the seeds thereof, resin extracted from any part of such plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant, its seeds, or its resin THAT CONTAINS ONE PERCENT OR MORE CONCENTRATION OF TETRAHYDROCANNABINOL BY WEIGHT. MARIJUANA DOES NOT INCLUDE INDUSTRIAL HEMP AS DEFINED IN THIS SECTION.

c) The following definition of "Industrial Hemp" shall be added to TITLE 9, SECTION 106.00 as appropriate:

"Industrial Hemp" -- All parts and varieties of the plant Cannabis sativa, both indigenous and imported, that are, or have historically been, cultivated and harvested for fiber and seed purposes and contain atetrahydrocannabinol concentration of one percent or less by weight.


BE IT FURTHER ORDAINED that all ordinances, resolutions, policy letters, memoranda of understanding or agreement and any other official documents created by, or entered into by, the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council that relate to marijuana are hereby amended to encompass the distinction now created in TITLE 9, SECTION 106.00.


I, the undersigned, as Recording Secretary of the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council, hereby certify that this Ordinance was adopted by a vote of: 8 For; 4 Against; and 1 Not Voting, during a REGULAR SESSION held on the 28th day of July, 1998.

Theresa Two Bulls, Secretary
Oglala Sioux Tribe


John W. Steele, President
Oglala Sioux Tribe

Re-distributed as a public service by the:
Colorado Hemp Initiative Project
PO Box 729, Nederland CO 80466
Vmail: (303) 448-5640
Email, web site, web site 2

Fighting over 60 years of lies and dis-information with 10,000 years of history and fact.


More hemp articles
Back to Front Page