Robins Kaplan LLP Files Motion to Lift 11-Year-Old Injunction Against Oglala Sioux Tribe Industrial Hemp Farmer in South Dakota

"One-of-a-kind" federal injunction prevents Alex White Plume from legally farming non-drug industrial hemp

July 30, 2015

SIOUX FALLS, S.D., July 30, 2015—National law firm Robins Kaplan LLP announced today the filing of a motion in the United States District Court for the District of South Dakota, seeking to lift an 11-year-old injunction that prevents Oglala Sioux Tribe industrial hemp farmer Alex White Plume from exploring the legal farming of industrial hemp. White Plume's farm is on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, and therefore subject to the Oglala Sioux Tribe Ordinances and the 2014 Farm Bill, both of which allow for the legal farming of non-drug industrial hemp.

"There is no reason that an industrial hemp farmer on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation should be treated differently than an industrial hemp farmer in Kentucky," said Tim Purdon, partner at Robins Kaplan and co-chair of the firm's American Indian Law and Policy Group and Government and Internal Investigations Group, who filed today's motion. "We are hopeful the Court will lift this injunction, which is a relic from an old, failed era of industrial hemp regulation."

Non-drug industrial hemp was legalized by the Oglala Sioux Tribe in 1998, and in 2014, Congress passed the Farm Bill recognizing a distinction between marijuana and industrial hemp that created an exception to the Controlled Substance Act to allow for growth, cultivation and the study of industrial hemp in certain circumstances. According to Vote Hemp, a non-profit organization dedicated to the acceptance of and free market for industrial hemp, to-date, 23 states have defined non-drug industrial hemp as distinct from marijuana and have taken steps to remove barriers to the production of industrial hemp.

Unfortunately, a 2004 permanent injunction by the United States District Court for the District of South Dakota prevents White Plume from growing non-drug industrial hemp on his family’s land on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The injunction against Mr. White Plume is the only one of its kind in the United States.

"With the relaxation of industrial hemp laws and policies, many researchers and commercial farmers across the United States are growing industrial hemp, including at the University of Kentucky. With this motion, we’re seeking to ensure equal treatment for an American Indian industrial hemp farmer and to stand up for tribal sovereignty," added Purdon, who served as United States Attorney for the District of North Dakota from August 2010 to March 2015. 

Timothy Q. Purdon


Chair, American Indian Law and Policy Group;
Co-Chair, Government and Internal Investigations Group

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