Published February 24, 2019
In 2014 when the United States federal government announced Native American tribes could set their own cannabis laws, many believed growing industrial hemp would be a boon for Native American industry. Hemp can be grown for a variety of products including CBD oils and products which have been shown to have promising health impacts.
However, several events and legal decisions since 2014 have impacted the cannabis and hemp industries and how Native American tribes can participate in the potential cash cow.
The United States government passed the 2018 Farm Bill which has given increased hope to the hemp industry that CBD products could hit the legal mainstream across the country. The Farm Bill allows for the industrial growth of hemp, but several states have begun to crack down on CBD products, one of the largest potential markets for hemp.
The passage of the Farm Bill means Native American tribes looking to invest in alternative industries may face stiffer competition from other farmers looking to switch to hemp. However, the uncertainty around the industry allows tribes to enter on the ground floor.
CBD products are still vastly popular, and there is a clear market for them. Health benefits include relieving chronic pain and lessening symptoms for people suffering from seizures. The potential health benefits started a craze in America and in Europe, and companies like Nordic Oil sell CBD products across the European Union.
However, despite the demand, there are several industries in the United States with a vested interest in stymying the growth of the hemp industry. Paper, plastic, and oil are just a handful of powerful industries that face competition from the potential spread of industrial hemp production
Looking for alternatives
Casinos have been one of the largest industries for Native American tribes, but some groups are looking for alternatives to build up independence from American federal funding. Hemp and cannabis have been two answers for some tribes including Marc Grignon of the Menominee tribe in Wisconsin.
Grignon is not only attempting to move his tribe into industrial hemp production, but he also wants to spread the word to other tribes. His tribe’s hemp field was raided despite his claim that they followed all federal rules and regulations.
However, as hemp is now legal in Wisconsin, Grignon hopes to bring back hemp production to his tribe as an alternative to setting up a casino. He found that too much of casino profits do not end back in the pockets of Native Americans, and he believes hemp could be the answer to this problem.
What the industry might hold in the future
The growth of CBD and hemp products is undeniable, and it has a huge potential for growth. Uncertainty surrounding hemp production and what products are legal makes it a risky investment for some, but others are hoping for the hype to pay off.
The legality of hemp production, and the United States government’s permission to tribes to set their own rules indicates that Native American tribes could profit from this newest trend.
However, through the experience of Grignon and the Menominee tribe in Wisconsin shows that tribes often face an uphill battle against federal oversight. A Native American church in the Bay Area was also ordered to cease their sale of cannabis, hemp, and CBD products.
The CBD and hemp industry are a potential cash cow for many Native America tribes, but it looks like Native Americans will have to continue to fight and take risks in order to participate in the growing industry.