Nevada State Senator Tick Segerblom has introduced SB 375, a bill that would authorize “agreements between the Governor and Indian tribes in this State relating to the regulation of the use of marijuana.”
And a lot of tribal leaders are showing interest, many making the trip to the state legislature last week to make their voices heard.
“The tribes would oversee what is happening on their reservation, but when they participate in the system they would have to follow the state rules,”
Like most Native American reservations around the U.S., those in Nevada suffer from chronic poverty and unemployment. Many tribal leaders see legal cannabis as a great opportunity to create jobs.
Since a 2014 Department of Justice announcement that seemed to allow tribes leeway in legalizing and regulating marijuana, attempts to do just that have not gone well. But for many tribes, there is no other option. They need marijuana legalization to work on their lands.
“We lack a tribal court system, we lack a police department, we lack health services – this may help create those services,”
said David Decker, Chairman of the Elko Band Council for the Te-Moak Tribe of the Western Shoshone, when he testified before the State Senate Judiciary Committee. “Just to pay for dispatch, this is very expensive. This could help us pay for all those economic securities that we currently can’t provide.”
In light of the history between authorities in the U.S. and Native American tribes, it seems like a small concession to allow tribes to grow and sell marijuana and generate some economic activity on their lands…those that remain, at least. Given the uncertainty surrounding the marijuana industry, tribes are taking quite a risk to go on this path. Hopefully politicians in Nevada will give them the tools they need to get an industry off the ground.
“They are sticking their necks out on this one, but at some point you have to say, ‘We can’t sit around and twiddle our thumbs,’”Sen. Segerblom said.
“I think the tribes – because they’re sovereign nations – they will have a better leg to stand on [if they are challenged by the feds].”
In the end, of course, marijuana should be legal on all lands. And if adult use marijuana is legal in Nevada – which it is – there is no reason to keep Native American tribes from participating and benefitting from that fact.
Originally published: The Marijuana Times
On heels of news that the federal government legalized marijuana on native american grounds, a tribe in Mendocino County has said they have plans to grow and supply large amounts of medical marijuana in California.
It’s only fitting the tribe is located in the Emerald Triangle, one of the most well known places in the world for producing marijuana.
The 250 member Pinoleville Pomo Nation tribe will be consulted by Colorado-based, public company United Cannabis and Kansas-based company, FoxBarry Farms.
The two companies will provide assistance for growing and distributing cannabis on a large scale. Proposed plans include a $10 million, 2.5 acre indoor growing facility that is to be completed in February.
Additionally, the licensing agreement calls for United Cannabis to receive $200,000 in prepaid royalties & 15% of net sales.
Mendocino County officials were surprised by the news, citing urgency as a key factor. “The tribes are just getting out ahead of the game,” Mendocino County Supervisor Dan Hamburg said.
“From an ecological perspective, that does not sit well with me.”
Hamburg continued, referring to the plans to build an indoor grow facility that has considerable more environmental impact than outdoor or greenhouse marijuana cultivation facilities.
United Cannabis and FoxBarry Farms said they plan to launch two additional operations in California, though they have not yet disclosed the locations.
In a memorandum this week, the justice department reported that it will not stop Native Americans from growing or selling marijuana on sovereign land. The U.S. attorney for North Dakota, Timothy Purdon, is the chairman of the Attorney General’s Subcommittee on Native American Issues. He said that the issue will work on a case-by-case basis, and must still adhere to the same federal regulations and state guidelines.
For tribes, this could mean a revenue generating opportunity similar to the that of cigarette sales and gambling, both of which have been big earners in the past.
Not every tribe wants to be involved in cannabis cultivation or sales, however. At this time, according to Amanda Marshall, Oregon U.S. Attorney, only 3 of the 566 tribes conveyed any interest in the matter, likely because there are social and community uncertainties as well as huge risks involved for tribes located within states where marijuana is still very illegal.
In 2013, in response to the legalization amendments approved in Colorado and Washington, the Cole Memorandum was drafted to give specific guidelines for state legalization, and these same guidelines will be applied to cannabis legalization on tribal lands. According the the Cole Memorandum, the federal government will allow states to enforce their own legalization laws as long as the states are able to demonstrate efforts to enforce the following criteria:
- Preventing minors from accessing cannabis
- Preventing cannabis sale revenue from reaching criminal cartels
- Preventing cannabis from reaching outside of the state in which it is legal
- Preventing cannabis sales from being used as a cover for other illegal activity
- Preventing gun violence related to marijuana sales
- Preventing driving under the influence of cannabis
- Preventing marijuana from being grown on public lands
- Preventing marijuana possession and use on federal property
Although not all tribes may be interested, it is only fair that the same Cole Memorandum regulations to be applied to sovereign Native American lands. As Purdon pointed out, “We need to make sure with this policy that we honor the idea that tribes are sovereign.”
photo credit: Kris Krug