Mary Jane (MJ) Oatman launched a new magazine called Tribal Hemp and Cannabis (THC) earlier this year. Oatman serves as the executive director of the Indigenous Cannabis Coalition (ICANNC), a 501(c) (3) (non-profit) organization based in Kamiah.
The magazine is published quarterly by Mary Jane and her mother, Judy Oatman, to “highlight communities throughout Indian Country that are creating change by investing in industrial hemp cultivation and marijuana dispensary operation, as well as research and development at tribal colleges,” as described in the first edition of the magazine. State and tribal laws for both hemp and cannabis vary throughout the U.S. (A disclaimer in the magazine acknowledges that cannabis is illegal under federal law, and the content is for educational and advocacy purposes.) The 2018 Farm Bill provided a pathway for states and tribes to permit growing industrial hemp with less than 0.3 percent THC if they have a USDA-approved plan.
Forty seven states (not including Idaho) and numerous tribes have approved plans to allow the growing of industrial hemp to some degree, according to a graphic in THC magazine. Hemp can be used to make rope, textiles, clothing, shoes, food, paper, bioplastics, insulation and biofuel, according to Wikipedia. “THC Magazine provides for a place of story… A common community gathering to elevate the perspectives of Indigenous communities in the hemp and cannabis field to promote our collective understanding of how we can work to protect our sister plant from exploitation while reclaiming and destigmatizing the traditional and spiritual use known since time immemorial” according to a statement on ICANNC’s website. When Lewis and Clark came through the valley, Nez Perce women were engaged in a rope-hemp economy according to Mary Jane. She describes that Kamiah was named after the Nez Perce word “Qemu” which translates to “Indian Hemp.” She views hemp and cannabis as a part of traditional agriculture and “wants people to have a healthy conversation about decriminalizing nature.” The first issue features a cover story about Mary Jane’s grandmother, Alice “Jeanie” (Johnson) Warden, a Nez Perce elder. The story entitled “Ahead of Her Time” written by Jeanie’s daughter, Judy Oatman, describes how Warden was arrested and served a six-month prison sentence in the 1980s for growing marijuana on her Indian trust land. The remainder of the 1st issue focuses on the history of hemp and cannabis in tribal culture, barriers to cultivation, ways to connect with others, conferences, plus testimonials of CBD and medical marijuana use in pain management including endoflife care. The 2nd issue features indigenous women in the hemp and cannabis industries including researchers, policymakers, business leaders, fashion designers and entrepreneurs from across Indian Country, including Muriel Young Bear (Me’qu’ish) who runs her own hemp consulting business and is pictured wearing hemp clothing. A third issue is planned for this fall, focused on indigenous men in cannabis, with a special feature for native veterans. Each issue includes a map of Tribal Nations Dispensary and Farms throughout the country. A glossy print edition is available locally in Kooskia at the Sunset Mart and Tom Cat Sporting Goods and in Kamiah at Itse Ye Ye Casino and the Health Food Stores. The print version is free, supported by sponsorships and advertising. ICANNC is distributing 10,000 copies of the magazine throughout Indian Country. “I don’t want anyone to have to pay to access information that is going to heal our indigenous people,” stated Mary Jane. A free online version is available on the ICANNC website (http://www.indigenouscannabiscoalition. com)