In December 2014, the federal government made a surprising step in the right direction when it allowed the nation’s Native American Tribes to choose whether to grow cannabis on their land.
Last fall, the Department of Justice issued the Cole Memo, an agreement between the federal government and the states in which marijuana has been legalized, which restricts the feds from interfering with state marijuana laws as long as all eight regulations listed in the memo are followed. The Cole Memo also establishes the same agreement with Native American Tribes, instructing federal attorneys not to prosecute tribes who grow and sell marijuana on their sovereign lands.
The memo lists some guidelines that tribal groups and state governments must follow to prevent interference of the federal government in their activities, such as taking steps to ensure that marijuana is not sold to minors and that profits from the growing or sale of cannabis do not end up financing criminal organizations.
Since the information has been released, two tribes have decided to take advantage of this move by the federal government. Northern California’s Pomo tribe was the first, and has agreed to the development of a $10 million cannabis growing facilities together with United Cannabis. At the same time, the Red Lake band of Chippewa in Minnesota is discussing how they can transform some of their land into a marijuana farm.
While these two tribes are among the first to take action, they are far from being the only ones getting ready to cash in on the growth potential that legalized marijuana can bring. According to press reports, over 100 tribes are thinking of growing marijuana on their land.
Businesses that are already involved in the legal cannabis industry, such as United Cannabis and FoxBarry Farms, are getting ready to become potential partners to Native American tribes who decide to go ahead and allow cannabis cultivation on their territory. Barry Broutman, FoxBarry’s CEO, reported that hundreds of tribes have expressed interest in having legal marijuana growing operations on their territory. Broutman told Huff Post,
“I really underestimated. So many tribes are wanting to do this right now.”
“Tribes want what any government wants for its people, and that’s financial independence. They want to earn their own money, provide education, health care and housing. This new industry allows them to be more economically independent.”
America’s tribes control massive amount of land all over the nation, with many of the territories being sparsely populated, meaning that they will have a lot of extra space that can be used for the cultivation of marijuana. The potential economic windfalls for the tribes and their people are also very good, which means that there are few reasons as to why a Native American tribe would not be interested in participating in the upcoming Green Rush.