AUTHOR: DEBI JOHNSON-CHAMP DECEMBER 12, 2014
Native American tribes throughout the United States may soon offer to the public something more than games of chance at casinos on their reservations. In a memo just released by the Justice Department, the Obama administration has decided to permit Native Americans to grow and sell marijuana on reservations, including those located in states where it is illegal to do so.
Pot possession remains a federal crime, and only four states (Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska) have currently legalized the sale and possession of marijuana. However, there are some 326 federally recognized Native American reservations, the majority of which are located in states that do not permit the recreational or medical use of marijuana.
This makes one think. You are sitting in your backyard in Wisconsin, feeling depressed that Scott Walker is your governor and thinking of lighting up. What are you likely to do? Drive to Colorado, or head over to the local Indian reservation and buy something to help you forget your woes? Me, I’m driving a few miles up the road so I can get home and get happy. And it will be legal because the Justice Department says so.
Timothy Purdon, United States Attorney for North Dakota, stated:“The tribes have the sovereign right to set the code on their reservations.”
Native Americans will now have the freedom to decide whether or not to permit pot cultivation and sale on reservation lands with limited restrictions. Those restrictions include:
• Distribution of marijuana to minors
• Revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs and cartels
• Diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal to states where it remains illegal
• State-authorized marijuana activity being used as a cover for trafficking other illegal drugs or activity
• Violence or the use of firearms as part of cultivation and distribution of marijuana
• Drugged driving or the exacerbation of other negative health consequences associated with marijuana use
• Growing marijuana on public lands
• Marijuana possession or use on federal property
The potential for marijuana sales represents a new source of revenue for tribes over and above monies currently generated by casino gambling and the sale of cigarettes.
This shift in policy is not without its critics. There’s always one in every crowd.
According to Kevin Sabet, a member of an anti-legalization group:
“A situation is quickly forming where people living in states who do not want legalization will in fact be living 10 minutes away from a marijuana store.”
Besides Kevin and a few others who don’t inhale, this is looking like it might be a bonanza for tribes across the United States and could help a few find their zen closer to home.
Puff, puff, pass.
featured image courtesy of marijuanapatients.org