SIOUX FALLS, SOUTH DAKOTA -- An American Indian treaty and U.S. law do not allow industrial hemp to be grown on an Indian reservation, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.
Industrial hemp is related to marijuana and can be used to make food, clothing, paper, rope and other products. It contains only a trace of the drug found in marijuana but is illegal to grow.
Alex White Plume, vice president of the Oglala Sioux tribe, and members of his family planted hemp three times on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation from 2000 to 2002, but it was confiscated by federal agents.
A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said it empathized with the White Plumes but concluded their enterprise was illegal.
The family's lawyer, Bruce Ellison, argued that it had a right to grow hemp without a permit because of an 1868 treaty that encouraged Indian farming.