An ongoing US Drug Enforcement Administration investigation has the DEA embroiled in litigation with the Menominee Indian Tribe in Menominee County, Wisconsin over the recent seizing of 30,000 high-grade marijuana plants from tribal land.
The marijuana was discovered by the DEA in a field near Suring, Wisconsin, and quickly raided. Bulldozers could be seen going back and forth for most of the day, filling dump trucks with piles of the illegal plant. The DEA claims that growers based out of Colorado led the operation and that it was used to supply legal marijuana dispensaries and retailers in that state.
However, Gary Besaw, Menominee Tribal Chairman, claims that it was not weed at all but industrial hemp being grown for research purposes. Industrial hemp does contain THC, the chemical in marijuana that makes it desirable as a drug, but in such low concentrations that it has no viable use as a drug. The tribe made a public statement that the DEA had ruined their hemp crop, criticizing the DEA and the Obama administration for loosing a full force raid on the tribes crop.
Immediately after this announcement was made, the DEA responded with their own announcement, stating that it had a search warrant for 20 acres of tribal land and seized 30,000 marijuana plants weighing over a ton. Furthermore, the tribe admitted that there had been disagreement in the past with the US Attorney over whether or not the tribe’s operation was actually in line with the farm bill that allows the growth of hemp for research purposes. The tribe had apparently offered to destroy certain strains of the hemp crop that might have been identified as being overly similar to marijuana and could be used recreationally.
It is then unclear how much of the crop was or was not actually usable marijuana; though the dispute with the US Attorney’s office clearly indicates that at least a portion of the 30,000 plants were in fact drug-grade marijuana. The DEA has not made any arrests at this time and the investigation is still ongoing even as the tribe continues to pursue litigation against the DEA.