The Navajo Nation opened its first hemp dispensary in Shiprock (New Mexico) last Thursday despite the warning of its illegality
The first hemp products dispensary opened last Thursday in Shiprock despite the warning of the current Navajo Nation president, Jonathan Nez, that the dispensary is illegal on their lands. But despite Nez’s warnings, the Native American Agriculture Company (NAAC) has said they will not back down.
In 2000, the Navajo tribe approved the production of hemp within the territories of the Navajo Nation. In 2018, the Navajo Nation San Juan River Farm Board (the Board) developed the Regulation required to grow hemp on individual farms.
Dineh Benally, director of the NAAC and president of the San Juan River Farm Board (the Board), told the media last Thursday that the 2018 Farm Bill and the Navajo Nation allow hemp cultivation, and the company plans to continue with its cultivation and also increase production. Benally explained that following the huge success of the 2018 pilot program, they increased hemp production in 2019 and will continue to produce more in 2020.
Hemp cultivation has been legal in the Navajo Nation since 2000, when the Navajo Nation Council passed a resolution that distinguishes between hemp and marijuana. At that time the cannabis plant with less than 1.4% THC, the plant’s psychoactive cannabinoid, was called hemp.
But the Farm Bill of 2018 lowered the amount of THC allowed to be classified as hemp to 0.3% THC. The Council also adopted this paradigm shift last year. The resolutions of 2000 and those of 2018 determine that the promulgation of this resolution does not authorize the cultivation, growth, possession, development or propagation of industrial hemp until the Navajo Nation creates a regulatory system for industrial hemp and obtains the necessary and applicable permits for the hemp industry.
Addressing the media, Dineh Benally said that the San Juan River Farm Board, in its capacity to act as part of the Navajo Nation government, developed the regulations. Jonathan Nez, who is the ninth and current president of the Navajo Nation, said last Tuesday the Board of San Juan River Farm is not authorized to act as a representative of the Navajo tribe. But Karen Ellsworth, director of sales for NAAC, has said that the hemp products sold by Shiprock’s dispensary do not come from hemp grown in the Navajo Nation at the moment, but that is what the tribe wants in the future next. Therefore, according to Ellsworth, the first hemp dispensary of the Navajo Nation is not acting against established legality.
Karen Ellsworth also said that in the very near future, the Navajo Nation wants to have its own brand of CBD oil, Navajo Gold, but for now they are selling hemp products from other distributors and that the NAAC would like to lease 10,000 acres of the Navajo Agricultural Products Industry to grow hemp.
In any case and despite the warning of Jonathan Prez, the first hemp dispensary of the Navajo Nation has started operating in Shiprock.