USDA allows Cayuga Nation to begin hemp production

The Cayuga Nation has received approval from the federal government to begin growing, producing and marketing hemp on its land.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved a hemp production plan submitted by the nation as allowed under the 2018 federal farm bill. The law allows cannabis to be grown under a USDA-approved plan as long as it meets the legal definition of hemp, which means it has less than 0.3% THC content, which is the main psychoactive chemical in marijuana.

Hemp can be used to make a wide variety of products, from apparel to food to CBD oils. The Cayuga Nation has not yet determined where it will grow its hemp, how much it would cultivate or to whom it might sell the product, attorney Lee Alcott said Thursday. The nation owns properties in Cayuga and Seneca counties.

The USDA approval gives tribal governments control over hemp production without oversight from local or state governments.

“The Cayuga Nation is excited about this new opportunity to expand and diversify our commercial activities within our reservation,” said Clint Halftown, the nation’s federal representative, in a press release. “The Farm Bill recognized the right of Indian nations to have authority over hemp production on our lands without interference from any other governments. It is a right that is wholly consistent with our sovereignty.

“We are anxious to begin planting and getting to market as soon as the weather permits,” he said.

Among the provisions in the Cayuga Nation Hemp Plan are a prohibition against growing and processing in or next to a residential structure, or within 1,000 feet of a school, church or public recreation area.

The plan also requires that growing and processing is done in a secure area that is enclosed with a fence and only accessible to authorized visitors, emergency responders and law enforcement.


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