Native American Tribes

tribal cannabis hemp marijuana

For people in the know, the cannabis industry is an unpredictable roller coaster for a number of reasons having to do with federal illegality, evolving state regulations, and market volatility. One faction of the industry that many thought would immediately take off is cannabis being grown and sold in Indian Country by Native American Tribes.

Cannabis laws on public eventsI’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–more state regulation of marijuana is going to lead to fewer and fewer cannabis cups and similar marijuana events and this in turn will force the purveyors of such events to get creative. Case in point: the 2017 High Times Cannabis Cup on the Moapa Band of

Tribal CannabisIn December, 2014, the Department of Justice stated it would not prosecute federal laws regulating the growing or selling of marijuana on tribal lands, even in states where cannabis is illegal. Monty Wilkinson, Director for the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, authored the statement, and it seemed to give Tribes the opportunity to become cannabis players because of their unique sovereign status. Though the Wilkinson Statement did not constitute a change of laws or a repeal of the federal Controlled Substances Act, most of what it means is that the eight enforcement priorities outlined in Cole Memo, in addition to consultation with tribal leaders, would guide U.S. Attorneys’ enforcement of federal marijuana laws on tribal lands.

However, as noted in Is Tribal Cannabis Still Possible, the Feds, haven’t really taken the Wilkinson Statement to heart when it comes to tribes that (1) have tried to engage in some aspect of the cannabis industry without entering into a compact with the states; and that (2) are not located in states with some form of robustly regulated marijuana laws.
Continue Reading Menominee Hemp Lawsuit Goes Up in Smoke

In 2014, the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued an enforcement memo addressing how Tribes can fit into marijuana legalization. Though that memo neither legalizes marijuana for Tribes nor makes any changes to federal drug laws, it states that Tribes will essentially be given a pass, like states, to legalize marijuana in accordance with current DOJ

Tribal Marijuana CompactThe Suquamish Tribe and the State of Washington recently signed and entered into the first ever marijuana compact to allow a Native American Tribe to cultivate, process, and sell marijuana within a state’s highly regulated marijuana system. The Tribe’s own marijuana regulations have not been disclosed to the public. We previously blogged about how Washington was the first state to adopt a compacting system for tribes and regulated marijuana, but this signed compact reveals more about what tribes can expect when they “partner” with Washington state on cannabis.

The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board negotiated the compact with the Suquamish Tribe on behalf of the state. In the compact, the state gives its own interpretation of the Wilkinson statement, writing that “[t]hat memo effectively treats tribal governments the same as state governments in the decision to legalize marijuana.” The compact also describes the existing state of cannabis on Suquamish land:

“After serious deliberation, the Tribe, as a sovereign nation, has also determined that present day circumstances make a complete ban of marijuana within Indian Country ineffective and unrealistic and has decriminalized its sale and possession in certain circumstances. At the same time, consistent with the federal priorities, the need still exists for strict regulation and control over the production, processing, delivery, distribution, sale, and use of marijuana in Indian Country.”

The state and the Tribe signed the compact “to strengthen their ability to … provide a framework for cooperation to ensure a robust tribal and state regulatory and enforcement system sufficient to meet the federal priorities.”

Here are some highlights from the compact:
Continue Reading The Suquamish Marijuana Compact: First in the State, First in the Nation