Wisconsin tribe reaches settlement to grow hemp for CBD oil on reservation


A tribe located in northern Wisconsin and the state’s attorney general have settled a lawsuit, allowing the tribe to grow hemp for CBD oil.

The St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin filed a federal lawsuit in February against Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel. The lawsuit stated Attorney General Shimel had objected to the tribe’s plan for processing hemp.

Jeff Cormell, the tribe’s attorney, said the two parties reached an agreement which will allow the St. Croix to oversee hemp production for CBD oil on its reservation land.

“That as long as the tribe is only dealing with hemp, that the state will not exercise any jurisdiction,” said Cormell.

The St. Croix filed the lawsuit before the attorney general released guidance to law enforcement in May of this year. The guidance stated growing hemp plants for CBD oil production is illegal under federal law except under specific, limited circumstances. Not long after the guidance was issued, the attorney general reversed course when state lawmakers feared the attorney general’s stance would harm farmers and patients who use CBD oil to relieve seizures and other medical conditions.

Now, farmers in Wisconsin may grow hemp for CBD oil if they obtain a license from the state’ agriculture department.

Cormell believed the state thought the tribe was attempting to grow illegal cannabis in secret.

“We assured them that is not what our interest is,” said Cormell. “We consider marijuana, much like the state, to still be illegal in the state of Wisconsin (and) also on the reservation. They made it very clear that if at any time we were growing marijuana, they would exercise jurisdiction, and we consented to that.”

In the lawsuit filed by St. Croix, the tribe said the state of Wisconsin had no jurisdiction on reservation land when it came to producing hemp for CBD oil. Under federal Public Law 280, states do not have the authority over criminal matters on reservation land.

The settlement states Wisconsin will not interfere with the St. Croix’s ability to oversee hemp cultivation and processing, including businesses operating under it. The tribe also agreed to notify the state of Wisconsin if their ordinance on hemp changes.

“New streams of revenue are always needed and definitely this is something that St. Croix is looking at as a new, very lucrative area to provide additional funds to help support tribal membership,” Cormell said. “That being said, the tribe is also a large believer that CBD oil has significant health benefits.”