Navajo Nation accuses 33 farmers of growing illegal hemp, marijuana

A tribal nation in New Mexico is suing 33 farmers for allegedly violating sovereign law by growing hemp and marijuana.

In the second hemp-related lawsuit filed by the Navajo Nation, the tribal nation accuses farmers of possessing or controlling Navajo lands that are being used to illegally grow, produce, manufacture, transport or sell industrial hemp and possibly marijuana, according to the Navajo Times. The lawsuit was filed in the Shiprock District Court in New Mexico.

The lawsuit states that the farmers’ actions are “irreparably injuring and contaminating the nation’s lands, waters and other natural resources.”

The Navajo Nation filed its first lawsuit against tribal member and president of a local farm board, Dineh Benally, who was accused of growing hemp on tribal land without permission. The tribal nation shut down most of the farms connected to Benally and also strengthened legal language requiring tribal permission to grow cannabis.

The 2018 Farm Bill allows tribes to oversee hemp production if they wish, and more than three dozen tribes have plans to do so, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Navajo Nation is not one of them.