I attended the White Plume Hemp Harvest near Wounded Knee creek on Saturday. It was a perfect day to be outside and visit with friends. A prayer of gratitude was offered for the Hemp relatives that would be harvested for medicine. It was an awesome day in the sun witnessing an absolutely legal harvest of mature hemp plants in Oglala Lakota County, South Dakota.
Alex White Plume has been growing hemp for decades. Initial crops were confiscated by federal agents, as hemp was considered an illegal drug for the miniscule amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) the plant contains.
Cannabis plants include both marijuana and hemp. Both types contain cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which are natural compounds of the plants.
Industrial hemp, which was declared legal when the federal government passed the recent Farm Bill, is a cannabis plant that contains less than 0.3 percent THC. Marijuana is also a cannabis plant, containing a much higher concentration of THC. High levels of THC in a cannabis plant provides the intense psychoactive effect which marijuana recreational users seek.
Kristi Noem, Governor of South Dakota, made her stand on industrial hemp known to the entire globe through a recent editorial published in the Wall Street Journal. She chooses to overlook the medicinal benefits of hemp because “Hemp and marijuana look and smell the same. Police officers can’t tell the difference between them during a traffic stop.” https://www.wsj.com/articles/why-i-wont-support-legalizing-hemp-11568068697
Consequently, South Dakota – as well as the rest of the country – is battling a war against methamphetamine. A majority of Lakota people have been affected by meth, either by succumbing to addiction or watching a family member lose everything because of their drug use.
The Governor could make better use of her time by focusing on how to eradicate meth from this state, instead of worrying about how the cops are going to tell the difference between cannabis plants. Many of us wonder why she’s demonizing a natural medicine that might actually help meth users overcome their addiction.
Cannabis users, whether it’s marijuana or hemp, will give testimony to the healing properties of CBD/THC. For instance, numerous people who use CBD products can tell you how the medicine has changed their lives. People who suffered from chronic pain are now going through life either free of hurt or cured from a terrible disease. CBD works better than any pain medication on the market. Even more effective is the fact that CBD products don’t have a mile-long list of side effects, often cited in television commercials marketing new-drugs.
Healing properties contained in many plants, trees, animals and water were the medicines our ancestors used. Nature is a living being and has guided Indigenous people to medicines needed for our ailments. Indigenous people carry this knowledge and we will pass it on to our children.
We must wean ourselves off of the poisons prescribed by Indian Health Service providers. Too many of us watch our own good health deteriorate as the list of prescriptions we take home increases.
It’s time for us to reclaim the plant-based cures for the diseases our people suffer; synthetic drugs have already killed too many of our relatives. Scientists working with cannabis plants have developed strains to focus on specific illnesses, like cancer or diabetes. I’m grateful to the sovereign tribal governments in South Dakota who’ve developed, and continue to draft, legislation legalizing cannabis plants.
Hemp, along with medical/recreational marijuana, has the potential to end the abject poverty affecting the majority of our tribal citizens. That is, tribal entrepreneurs and businesses could prosper from taxed, retail sales of cannabis.
Kudos to the White Plume Tiospaye for their persistence in caring for our cannabis plant relatives in Lakota country.
Vi Waln (Lakota) is an award-winning Journalist. She can be reached through email firstname.lastname@example.org