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Kentucky hemp helps Oglala Sioux building project

Posted on December 18, 2000

Mount Rushmore, South Dakota — Standing beneath the sculpted faces of four presidents, former Republican Governor Louie B. Nunn of Kentucky turned over a trailer load of industrial hemp to Milo Yellowhair of Pine Ridge.

Kentucky hemp growers were supporting the Pine Ridge Land Use Project members after their industrial hemp crop was destroyed and confiscated by the Drug Enforcement Administration. The choice of Mount Rushmore as a transfer location was prompted by the fact that two presidents, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, grew industrial hemp.

The 20 bales and 55 large bags of industrial hemp donated by the Kentucky Hemp Growers Association was imported from Canada in accordance with the North American Free Trade Agreement, Nunn said.

The industrial hemp will be used to create bricks for home construction.

“We are picking up exactly the same material destroyed by the DEA. That’s absurd. We aren’t going to let their foolishness stop our progress,” said Tom Cook, Slim Butte Land Use Association coordinator.

Yellowhair said new bricks should be made in the beginning of the year and construction of a home to be owned by Ernest Afraid of Bear will resume shortly thereafter with completion scheduled for spring.

The federal government makes no distinction between the hemp used for clothing, building materials, food, alternative to plastics and some 150 other uses, and the product used for recreational or medical purposes.

Nunn said in Kentucky, where automobile assembly is big business, General Motors plans to use industrial hemp to make material used in bumpers and other areas of the vehicle that now employ plastic products. He said it is safer and in an accident there is less risk of being cut.

He added that because of the $500 million the DEA receives each year to eradicate ditch weeds, which are actually hemp, there is no hope the organization will support a different set of standards for the product that is used as a mood-altering drug.

Trials for those arrested for growing the industrial hemp in South Dakota will come up sometime after the first of the year, Yellow Hair said.

At 5 a.m. on Aug. 24, Drug Enforcement Administration and FBI officers destroyed hemp crops owned by the White Plume Family and the Slim Buttes Land Use Project.

The planting of the hemp was legal according to the laws of the Oglala Lakota Nation. The tribal council passed an ordinance in 1998 that authorized growing industrial hemp. The ordinance clarifies industrial hemp to have a level of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), to be less than 1 percent by weight. THC is the chemical that creates the hallucinogenic effect.

Alex White Plume said the officers told him a test revealed between zero and less than 1 percent THC for his plants.

U.S. Attorney Ted McBride pointed out that the federal government does not make such a fine distinction and therefore does not support the tribe’s ordinance. The government requires anyone wishing to grow industrial hemp to register it with the DEA, whether on a reservation or not. The government’s definition of marijuana does not quantify the amount of THC the plant carries.

Copyright © 2000, Indian Country Today. All rights reserved.

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