Legal fight leads to halting of hemp operations in NW New Mexico


A Navajo Nation judge halted operations at nine hemp farms in northwestern New Mexico as part of a legal fight between a businessman and the tribe’s Department of Justice.

The judge issued a preliminary injunction against Dineh Benally and two of his businesses following a hearing Friday, the Farmington Daily Times reported.

The tribe sued Benally and the companies in June, alleging he was illegally issuing permits for foreign entities to cultivate and grow industrial hemp on tribal land near Shiprock. Tribal prosecutors had asked that the court issue a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction so that work at the farms would be put on hold while the complaint is litigated.

Oliver Whaley, head of the tribe’s Environmental Protection Agency, testified Thursday that there were no licenses issued for operations including the use of septic tanks, a cesspool and possible use of large water-hauling tanks to store gasoline for generators. He also claimed there were violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Some residents complained about hemp farm operations damaging corn and alfalfa crops, along with the odor of the hemp affecting their personal health.

Source: Santa Fe New Mexican

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