Opinion: High stakes in debate for marijuana in Indian Country

The Tribal Marijuana Conference was held on the Tulalip Reservation in Washington on February 27, 2015. Photo by Chris Stearns / Twitter

Writer doesn't believe New York will benefit from the establishment of a marijuana industry in Indian Country:
A few weeks ago, some 75 tribal leaders from across the country met to discuss forming the first "Tribal Cannabis Association" at the Tulalip Resort Casino on the Tulalip Reservation in Washington State. The conference was organized by Robert Odawi Porter of Odawi Law PLLC, a former President of the Seneca Nation of New York and by Washington state cannabis business attorneys Hilary Bricken and Robert McVay.

Porter was a leading figure and Seneca Nation lobbyist during the casino gaming giveaway, and his status as organizer of the conference is troubling.

"This issue was a historic moment for the United States and what the Justice Department did was to invite Indian country to have a historical moment. No different than any other major decision our ancestors have had to make," Porter said. "Tribal leaders are now going to have the same opportunity to think through whether legalizing marijuana was a good thing. I'm hopeful that today's event was part of a beginning process of providing quality information and informing leadership, informing their employers and other staff and community members and hopefully continue that process in the coming days and weeks."

Porter was referring to a memo issued by the Department of Justice in October 28, 2014 instructing all U.S. Attorneys to not pursue prosecution of federally-recognized tribes that chose to legalize and regulate marijuana if they meet priorities laid out in a memorandum issued by the Attorney General's office in 2013.

These include things like preventing distribution of marijuana to minors and preventing revenue of sale of marijuana to criminal enterprises.

A keynote speaker at a "Tribal Marijuana Conference," also organized by Porter and held prior to the cannabis legalization event, was former U.S. Attorney Troy Eid, present chair of President Barack Obama's National Indian Law and Order Commission.

The stakes in this new game are that high.

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Mike Hudson: Native American Marijuana Production A Bad Bet for Niagara County Taxpayers (The Niagara Falls Reporter 3/10)

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