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Hemp production on the Wind River Reservation is moving forward

Hemp was federally legalized to grow in 2018.
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The Northern Arapaho made it a goal to find alternative sources of revenue for the tribe last year, and now those seeds are starting to sprout.

The tribe is forming a hemp commission. The plan is to have four tribal members responsible for reviewing laws surrounding hemp production and reviewing licensing applications on the Wind River Reservation.

The Northern Arapaho chairman Jordan Dresser said growing hemp on the Wind River has been in the works for at least a year.

“The need of the commission is they're going to be the ones to enforce it in a sense. So, you need that regulatory body. So the commission is going to be the one to oversee all that,” Dresser said.

Hemp is from the plant species Cannabis sativa and was approved to grow in the U.S. in 2018 and in Wyoming in 2020. It can be used for rope, textiles, insulation and biofuel. Dresser said there's potential for many new businesses, as well as the opportunity to be environmentally friendly and self-sustaining.

“The goal of this is just to be another self-sustaining enterprise for the tribe, but also one that helps Earth as well. But over time people got misconceptions about it,” he said.

Those misconceptions come from the fact that hemp and marijuana come from the same plant but hemp has very little T.H.C. in it, which is the psychoactive compound in weed. Hemp at its dry weight has less than 0.3 percent T.H.C.

Dresser wants to have the new commission up and running within the next month. Currently, the tribe has already accrued a lot of interest.

Taylar Dawn Stagner is a central Wyoming rural and tribal reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. She has degrees in American Studies, a discipline that interrogates the history and culture of America. She was a Native American Journalist Association Fellow in 2019, and won an Edward R. Murrow Award for her Modern West podcast episode about drag queens in rural spaces in 2021. Stagner is Arapaho and Shoshone.
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