Law | Opinion

Editorial: Showing caution for marijuana sales in Indian Country

A dispensary in Denver, Colorado. Photo from O'Dea / Wikipedia

South Dakota newspaper urges tribes not to rush into marijuana despite a new Department of Justice policy affecting the drug in Indian Country:
This is not the first time South Dakota tribes have talked marijuana. In 2001, the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council passed a resolution supporting the development of industrial hemp on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The council stressed the “economic necessity” of growing industrial hemp, a relative of marijuana that can be used to make rope, paper and other products, but cannot be smoked.

In 2006, the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down that vote.

Caution is paramount. Just last year, Pine Ridge members voted to overturn a federal ban on selling alcohol on tribal land, creating a potential new revenue stream.

Pine Ridge residents found that many tribal members were going to liquor stores just over the border in Nebraska to get their alcohol. While the reservation has seen problems with alcohol and substance abuse, the tribe was not getting revenue or resources to combat those issues.

Legalized marijuana could offer similar opportunities and obstacles.

Without the resources to combat substance abuse, through education or medical or psychological means, marijuana legalization would just add to the layers of problems found on reservations.

Get the Story:
Our Voice: Tribes should be cautious of pot ruling (The Aberdeen American News 12/18)

Another Opinion:
Native American tribes and the marijuana business (The San Diego Union-Tribune 12/17)

Also Today:
Justice Department memo allows tribes to make their own rules on growing marijuana (The Oroville Mercury-News / Eureka Times-Standard 12/12) Local tribes unmoved by federal memo allowing pot on reservations (The Eureka Times-Standard 12/12)

Relevant Documents:
Policy Statement Regarding Marijuana Issues in Indian Country (October 2014)

Related Stories:
Column: No rush on marijuana sales at Eastern Cherokee casino (12/17)
Opinion: DOJ marijuana policy in Indian Country raises questions (12/16) DOJ announces new policy affecting marijuana in Indian Country (12/11)

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