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Dineh Benally and Hemp on the Navajo Nation

Dineh Benally and Hemp on the Navajo Nation
August 02
17:16 2020

Can Benally Deliver?

 

Mr. Benally (Facebook)

By John Christian Hopkins

Dineh Benally’s bid to become Navajo Nation president came up short, but can he succeed in his latest quest?

Benally has emerged as a champion of Navajo farmers – especially those who want to grow hemp.

Farmers should be able to grow whatever crops they want, said Benally, who is president of the San Juan River farm board.

Benally has three large greenhouses – in Shiprock, Hogback and Gaadahi – that grow hemp. Navajo Nation Attorney General Doreen McPaul has filed a lawsuit against Benally

over this enterprise.

The farms belong to individuals, not the Navajo Nation or chapters, Benally claims.

But hemp has been a controversial topic on the Navajo reservation.

A bill on hemp-growing was, sponsored by the late Ervis Keeswood, was passed in 2000 and signed into law by former President Kelsey Begaye.

However the move was largely symbolic as hemp was considered a controlled substance and banned under federal law.

Two decades later their dreams are coming true, according to Benally.

The farm board president is making “creative” arguments, said Charles Galbraith, who is representing the tribal government in its suit against Benally.

While President Donald Trump and Congress removed hemp from its list of controlled substance, the Navajo Nation has not, Galbraith said.

The bottom line is that the farm board can’t overrule the Navajo Nation Council, Galbraith said.

The 2000 Navajo legislation declared that marijuana consisted of 1.4 ounces of THC or above. Anything with less THC was classified as hemp.

However federal regulations were later tightened so hemp could only contain 0.3 THC.

The Navajo Nation has not amended its laws to be in compliance with federal law.

Dineh Benally and Hemp on the Navajo Nation - overview

Summary: Dineh Benally and Hemp on the Navajo Nation

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