Hemp: No Farm on the Pine Ridge, Says Federal Appeals Court 5/26/06

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A federal appeals court May 17 rejected a bid by a South Dakota Oglala Sioux Tribe member to grow industrial hemp crops on his land on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Alex White Plume and his attorneys had argued that the Controlled Substances Act did not apply to non-psychoactive hemp and that the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 gave the Sioux control over agriculture on their land.

White Plume and his family members tried in 2000, 2001, and 2002 to grow hemp crops on their land, citing an explicit approval by the tribal council in 1998. But each year, DEA agents invaded the land and destroyed the crops. In 2002, the Justice Department sought and received a restraining order barring White Plume from planting any new crops.

The appeal to the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis was a last-ditch effort to win approval for the crop. But while the three-judge panel expressed sympathy for the White Plume family, it found that growing hemp was barred under US law and that US law overrode tribal law.

"We are not unmindful of the challenges faced by members of the tribe to engage in sustainable farming on federal trust lands... And we do not doubt that there are a countless number of beneficial products which utilize hemp in some fashion," wrote Circuit Judge Arlen Beam in the unanimous opinion. "Nor do we ignore the burdens imposed by a DEA registration necessary to grow hemp legally, but these are policy arguments better suited for the congressional hearing room than the courtroom."

Much of the decision was devoted to arguments over whether Congress intended the Controlled Substances Act to apply to hemp, and while the court was open to arguments that was the case, it ultimately rejected them. "Essentially, what appellants seek from this court is an amendment of the CSA," wrote Beam. "But the proper venue for amending a statute is, of course, the duly elected legislature, equipped as it is to make these policy decisions."

Yes, and the duly elected legislature has done so well on this issue.

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Issue #437 -- 5/26/06

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Editorial: Making Sure Drugs Kill | Feature: Number of People Behind Bars in America Increasing By More Than a Thousand a Week | Feature: Fentanyl Death Toll Mounts as Authorities Belatedly Act | DRCNet Review Essay: Drug Policy and Prohibition in Context | Offer and Appeal: Important New Legalization Video and Drug War Facts Book Available | Feedback: Do You Read Drug War Chronicle? | Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories | Hemp: No Farm on the Pine Ridge, Says Federal Appeals Court | Search and Seizure: House Bill Aiming to Lower Standards for Student Searches Introduced | Latin America: Colombian Soldiers Accidentally Kill Ten Colombian Narcs | Latin America: Bolivian President Wins Voluntary Limits on Coca Production | Europe: British Report Calls for Safe Injection Sites -- Home Office to Consider | Marijuana: Smoking It Doesn't Cause Lung Cancer, Study Finds | Law Enforcement: Drug Truth Network Awards First Tin Foil Hat Award to DEA's Tandy | Weekly: This Week in History | Weekly: The Reformer's Calendar

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