Judge tosses California farm from tribal lawsuit over seized hemp plants

A federal judge has blocked a California farm from being part of a lawsuit filed by an American Indian tribe over local authorities’ seizure of their hemp plants.

A judge said in a ruling Tuesday that S.G. Farms “has not shown it had or has had an enforceable interest in any portion of the crop.”

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office seized the plants on Oct. 10, 2017.

The farm, an agricultural research organization based in Marin County, had been part of a lawsuit filed by the Winnemucca Indian Colony of Nevada – a federally recognized tribe of Western Shoshone and Northern Paiute Indians in northwestern Nevada.

The tribe sued the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office in 2017 as well as local county officials for the seizure of a 26-acre hemp crop in Stockton, California.

The Winnemucca’s company, Free Spirit Organics, is the main plaintiff in the case, but its partners in the growing and research operation also joined the suit, including S.G. Farms and American States University.

The tribe wants a temporary restraining order, return of the plants and a declaration that a San Joaquin County ordinance banning the grow is unlawful.

San Joaquin County told the tribe that its research claim was not enough to establish its ability to grow hemp in the county.