Tribal Cannabis: Balancing Tribal Sovereignty and Cooperative Enforcement
Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, No. 8, July 2019
7 Pages Posted: 15 Jul 2019
Date Written: July 8, 2019
The cannabis industry remains a difficult space to navigate for Native Americans both because of the continued federal ban on cannabis and the extra layer of laws and regulations on tribal land, as well as the potential for continued stigma arising from their involvement in an industry that was until recently considered illegal at all levels of government. Because of the complex jurisdictional circumstances which arise within tribal land, tribes are left with pioneering strategies on implementing a successful cannabis business alone – whether that be growing, wholesaling, selling on tribal land, or all three. At the same time, Native American tribes have many competitive advantages – they have water rights and access to power, they own land, and they have a historical and cultural tie to cannabis and natural healing. This article discusses several short term and long term steps that Native American tribes should undertake once a state in which a tribe is located legalizes medical marijuana in order to ready themselves to take advantage of an economic opportunity in the form of a cannabis industry should it arise including gaining community support and amending tribal codes, establishing a compact and setting up protections from outside investors, and seek long term legislative fixes such as opt-out provisions in the CSA.
Keywords: Cannabis, Native Americans, marijuana, tribe, tribal law
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