Sokaogon Chippewa Community News

LCO Tribal Leaders Discuss Hemp Pilot Program with Mole Lake

By Joe Morey, News Editor, Lac Courte Oreilles Tribe

The Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Governing Board (LCO TGB) heard a presentation from Thi Le, Director of Operations for the Sokaogon Medicinal Corporation (SMC), and Chris McGeshik, former Chairman of the Mole Lake Sokaogon Tribe and current President of SMC, to share their experience with their Hemp Pilot Program.

TGB members Tweed Shuman and Gary “Little Guy” Clause attended a Hemp Conference in Oneida. At that conference, they approached Le and McGeshik and asked them to visit Lac Courte Oreilles to share their experiences.

McGeshik explained the Tribe decided to jump in a few years ago and the membership overwhelmingly approved. They held a referendum with over 200 in support and only 17 voted against.

“We developed our own marijuana code and CBD oil code,” McGeshik said. “Now we are looking at tweaking our code because things are changing daily.”

“We’ve been navigating for a couple of years and it’s rapidly changing,” Le said.

The Sokaogon Tribe decided on building an indoor facility which is currently under construction but they plan to be growing their first plants beginning on January 2 of 2020. The facility is 10,000 square feet.

“We decided on the indoor facility because we could better control it,” McGeshik said. He went on to say with an indoor grow operation they will be able to grow four cycles annually. He also explained that you can’t insure your crop and with an outdoor grow there could be factors such as weather or cross-pollination that can devastate your grow.

In 2017, Le was hired full-time by the Tribe. Le became the point person to make sure quality controls were in place. Le added about the indoor grow that they control lights, temperature, nutrients and more.

“We didn’t want a limited season,” Le said. She said if you have a very wet year it will affect your crop; with indoor they will have a consistent crop every year.

She also said northern Wisconsin is not the optimal conditions for growing like south Colorado would be.

McGeshik said you need the right people in place and they have that person with Le. He said their Tribe made a lot of mistakes and they are glad to share with our Tribe to help us avoid making those same mistakes.

The Mole Lake Sokaogon chose to build a pole barn for their controlled facility versus a greenhouse because it’s very expensive because of the glass and the thickness to insulate and it’s heat-tempered.

Sokaogon Medicinal Corporation is established as an economic corporation of the Sokaogon Chippewa Community, with plans to process and manufacture CBD oil for treatment of epilepsy and other seizure disorders.