Category Archives: Indian Law

DEA Raid on Menominee Tribal Land Sparks Lawsuit

By Sam Mendez, executive director of the Cannabis Law and Policy Project

In the wake of a recent raid on their land of 30,000 plants by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the Menominee Indian Tribe in Wisconsin has filed suit, demanding declaratory judgments that its cultivation of hemp was legal and asking for declaratory relief and attorney’s fees. Interestingly, the tribe claimed no monetary damages. The tribe claims that the crop was to be used as hemp fiber for use in manufacturing to improve their local economy, and that no plants exceeded 0.3% in THC, a level set by the Agricultural Act of 2014 (the “Farm Bill”)1 and by Tribal law. It’s been reported that the DEA claims that the plants were high-grade marijuana.

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Tribal chairman Gary Besaw. (Photo: Press-Gazette Media)

The THC level of the marijuana is an important factual contention, and one that could lengthen a case considerably. Perhaps that is the reason why the tribe is only seeking a declaratory judgment that their cultivation of hemp is legal, the success of which would allow them to begin another crop next year. The tribe hopes to have a court decision by spring.

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