Last year the Obama Administration declared that the United States government would not stand in the way if Native American tribes wanted to legalize recreational and/or medical marijuana sales and cultivation. It was one of the most significant public policy shifts in marijuana enforcement history because it put just about every state in America in play for marijuana reform, albeit only on reservations within those states. But that’s important because there are areas of America where marijuana reform sounds unheard of, yet it could occur at any time at any reservation in that region. That’s a very big deal.
So far there have not been a lot of tribes that have decided to take the leap and start cultivating and selling marijuana. But there have been a handful that have made announcements, and it sounds like one tribe is very close to jumping into the marijuana industry. Per the Star Tribune:
Members of the Menominee Indian Tribe have endorsed the possible legalization of marijuana for medicinal and recreational use on their northeastern Wisconsin reservation, the tribe announced Friday.
In what tribal leaders called an advisory vote, about 77 percent of members voting said they backed medical marijuana. The vote was closer on recreational use, with about 58 percent of voting members saying yes.
Chairman Gary Besaw said tribal legislators will now study whether to move forward on both issues. He didn’t have a timetable for how quickly that might happen.
The Justice Department announced in 2014 it would let Indian tribes legalize and regulate marijuana, but most tribes have been reluctant to move forward with the new freedom for concern about possible public safety and health consequences. Besaw said the Menominee “have to be cautious.”
“This is all new ground we’re breaking,” Besaw said. “It’s hard to get definitive answers.”
I hope that every tribe in America gives growing and selling marijuana a long solid consideration. Marijuana sales could bring money to tribes that would help them out in a lot, and in a way that doesn’t require much from the tribe. Tribes are approached all the time with proposals I’m sure. This type of new industry is something that they can do from within, and reap all of the benefits of their hard work on their own terms. Of course, if a tribe chooses not to do so, that’s fine to, but I think that it’s a move that is definitely worth researching.