Federal Affidavit Shows Why DEA Agents Destroyed Menominee Tribe Marijuana Plants
Simmering controversy remains after federal agents burned up cannabis on Menominee Tribe land when the tribe said it had permission to grow industrial hemp.
CBS 58 obtained a federal affidavit that explains more about what drove federal agents to raid more than 30,000 marijuana plants from the Menominee Tribe. The marijuana plants were growing on six acres of land with plants ranging in size of approximately four to six feet.
On Friday, bulldozers filled dump trucks with piles of plants in a field on the Menominee Indian reservation.
This happened after DEA agents collected samples of hemp with permission of tribal leaders on Monday, October 19th. Those samples turned out to be positive with marijuana and THC. Those in charge of the growing operation advised DEA agents that the plants had been under stress due to a lack of rainfall and sub-freezing temperatures which can increase THC levels.
Growers from Colorado were behind the operation and although the tribe says they were there for research purposes, the DEA says they are in violation of Federal and Wisconsin law. The affidavit claims Brian Goldstein, of Colorado, was in charge of the operation and acted as the main cultivator. Since Goldstein is not from Wisconsin and not a Native American Indian he was in violation of the law.
The tribe insists these crops were always intended to be legal as allowed by the 2014 farm bill. In August, Congress legalized growing low THC hemp for research purposes.
A cannabis advocate out of Madison who has worked with the tribe throughout the process says this is a huge setback for medical marijuana patients in Wisconsin.
"We are not getting the support we need from the people we elected in office to do what we know needs to happen. The tribes were willing to take this on, and now we are seeing interference on a federal level. I know a lot of parents with very sick children who can't afford to move to Colorado and they are heartbroken because they had a lot of hope in the tribe," says Tori LaChapelle.
LaChapelle says this is a clear indication that there's a disconnect between local, state and federal authorities when it comes to tribes growing marijuana on their reservations.