SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe and Oglala Sioux Tribe have filed applications with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to grow industrial hemp.

The applications come as Gov. Kristi Noem (R-SD) maintains a hard stance against growing the crop in the state. However, state law doesn’t apply to sovereign nations.

The U.S. Constitution states that, “Congress shall have the power to regulate Commerce with foreign nations and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes.” In practice, the Supreme Court has ruled on a number of cases that tribal governments deal with the federal government and not state governments.

The two tribes are part of 11 tribes and 11 states in the U.S. that have filed applications with the federal agency since a process was put in place in late October.

The state or tribe have to outline to the federal government a set of guidelines:

  • Plans to maintain relevant producer and land information
  • Plans for accurate and effective sampling testing using post decarboxylation or similar reliable methods
  • Plan for disposal procedures
  • Plan for inspection procedures
  • Plan for collection of information
  • Plan to comply with enforcement procedures
  • Certification that the state or tribal government (whichever applicable) has resources and personnel to carry out required Farm Bill practices and procedures

Growers who are interested in hemp for the 2020 year in those two tribes will have to get licensed by the tribe through the USDA.

Outside of the borders of Pine Ridge and Flandreau, state law still applies.

“USDA does not preempt a state’s ability to adopt stronger requirements or prohibit production. South Dakota state law prohibits industrial hemp production, and that statute still stands,” Noem said in early November.

The USDA rule also makes clear that the interstate commerce of hemp is not prohibited in the U.S., something South Dakota has disagreed with in the past.

“My team is working to ensure we have proper procedures in place so this doesn’t become something that weakens our drug laws,” Noem said.

The South Dakota legislature is set to take up the issue in the 2020 session in Pierre. Noem has said previously that she will veto any bill that passes.

“Conversations around hemp will continue, and I will continue to make the case that legalizing hemp will legalize marijuana by default,” Noem said.

KELOLAND News reached out to Gov. Kristi Noem’s office for comment on the tribes’ applications. Her office has not yet responded.

This isn’t Flandreau’s first time looking at the Cannabis sativa plant. The tribe had plans to build a marijuana resort. The difference between the two plants is mainly the level of THC.

At the time, Attorney General Marty Jackley had argued the seeds used to support that venture were imported illegally from the Netherlands, and later, illegally grown.

In November 2015, the operation’s marijuana plants were burned in fear of a raid of the operation. 

KELOLAND News has reached out to the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe and Oglala Sioux Tribe; we have yet to receive a response.