Dec 142014
 December 14, 2014

indian reservation marijuanaEarlier this week news broke that the federal government would allow Native American tribes to grow and sell marijuana on tribal lands if the tribes desired to do so. The news seemed to come out of nowhere, as no organization or veteran activists from the marijuana community seemed to be working on the policy change. After the dust settled, it became clear that tribes themselves pushed for the policy change. This is a very significant thing, as it could result in legal marijuana being grown and sold in regions that were once thought off limits. The policy change is getting mixed receptions from tribes. There are reports of at least two tribes considering taking advantage of the new policy. Per the Courant:

Both the Mohegans and the Mashantucket Pequots have looked to diversify their revenues in the face of increasing competition in the gambling industry. Neighboring states have added or expanded slot machines and other gaming options in recent years. Massachusetts and New York are in the process of adding casinos. The new competition threatens future success at Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino, owned and operated by the Mohegans and the Mashantucket Pequots, respectively.

Marijuana could be a competitive advantage for the tribes.

Other tribes have been lukewarm to the policy change, or outright against the idea. Per Seattle PI:

The Hoopa Valley Tribe in Northern California has battled illegal pot plantations on its reservation that have damaged the environment.

In South Dakota, the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council this year rejected a proposal to allow marijuana on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

“For me, it’s a drug,” said Ellen Fills the Pipe, chairwoman of the council’s Law and Order Committee. “My gut feeling is we’re most likely going to shoot it down.”

Walter Lamar is a member of the Blackfeet Nation, and former FBI agent, who advises and offers training to tribes on drug issues, noted that unemployment is high in Indian Country, and many of the jobs that are available, such as wildland firefighting, teaching, and U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs positions, require drug testing.

“Once there’s an easier availability for marijuana, it’s going to create some issues that could have an impact on our employment pool,” he said.

It will be interesting to see what tribes embrace the idea of legal marijuana. A legal marijuana industry on tribal lands could bring some much needed jobs and revenue to the tribes that decide to grow and sell marijuana. Oddly enough, it seems like the tribes that are most opposed to the idea are tribes that are bordered by states that have legalized marijuana. I would imagine that a tribe that legalized marijuana sales in a state that has harsh marijuana laws would make the most money, but only time will tell.

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  5 Responses to “Some Tribes Are Considering Growing/Selling Marijuana, Some Not So Much”

  1.  

    yes! come on Mohegans! NY needs you.

  2.  

    WOW this is amazing! I can only see good coming from this. For some tribes it must be like the Berlin wall coming down….woohoo!

  3.  

    Ellen Fills the Pipe is a law abiding control type. Trust me, every guy on the rez is into it. Fill the pipe!

  4.  

    This will be an issue that all reservations will have to address. As sovereign nations (and I don’t get it how our government has ANY say or even input on what the Native American nations do) bring this up for a discussion among their people, they will go through some of the same discussions that our states do. In the end, they, as sovereign nations, will make their decision. But I’ll tell ya one thing: IF they decide to go forward and enter the market, they will do it in fine fashion.

    When they do something, they do it right. Left alone by our government, they would help drive the price down on the black market and also the open, legal market.

    I do know that there are tons of cannabis running through the reservation at the Canadian border into New York State (not grown on their reservation). I think it’s a “turn-your-head” phenomenon at this point, knowing that their people are generating income from it. Whether it’s actually “condoned”, I don’t know.

  5.  

    Sure hope this can happen in NY….would definitely improve many persons quality of life…including mine.

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