At Kentucky's state capitol in Frankfort on Tuesday a nice bit of political theater illustrated the surreal nature of US hemp policy.
As reported by the Lexington Herald-Leader, it featured a former Kentucky governor, some would-be Kentucky hemp farmers, and a carload of Oglala Sioux from South Dakota.
Louie Nunn, the Republican ex-governor turned industrial hemp supporter, ceremonially presented the tribe members with a truckload of hemp parked just outside the capitol rotunda. The gift of hemp from the Kentucky Hemp Growers' Cooperative will help build and insulate houses on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
The scene was colorful and camera-friendly, but it also made some points about hemp policy. The hemp wasn't from Kentucky; it cannot be legally grown there. Instead, it came from Canada.
"It's a detour around bureaucratic wrangling," Oglala Sioux land director Milo Yellow Hair told the Herald-Leader. "We have to point out how ludicrous this all is. Industrial hemp is a multimillion-dollar industry."
"But neither American Indians nor Kentucky farmers can tap into it."
As DRCNet reported last September 15th (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/151.html#southdakota), the Oglala found that out the hard way when a heavily-armed gang of DEA, FBI, US Marshals, and state police raided the tribe's experimental hemp fields in August.
"It doesn't make much sense that this product can be shipped in from Canada, we can ship it to South Dakota, we can stand here and talk about it but we can't grow it," said Andy Graves of the Kentucky Hemp Growers' Co-op.
Nunn and the co-op members took the opportunity to laud the virtues of industrial hemp as well. "Not only will hemp be a great alternative crop, but with its many uses, it could bring an industrial revolution to this state 20 years from now," said Nunn.
He told the gathering he planned to travel along with the Kentucky hemp shipment to educate people about the crop and its uses.
Yellow Hair and the other tribe members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe were grateful for the gift.
"When we needed hemp, Kentuckians stood up and helped us," Yellow Hair Said. "It's a very symbolic move, and we want to build on it."
(Also read our "Hemp Lunacy" editorial about the Oglala hemp incident, http://www.drcnet.org/wol/151.html#editorial from the same issue.)