Recently the federal government came out and stated that they would not prevent tribes from growing and selling marijuana if the tribe decided to do so on tribal lands. Slowly but surely, some tribes are exploring the idea. One tribe in California has already stated that they will be growing marijuana, although the only sales that will occur will be directly to medical marijuana dispensaries. Another tribe in Minnesota has started a feasibility study to see if they should get into the marijuana industry. Per MPR News:
The Red Lake Band of Chippewa in northern Minnesota is exploring whether to grow and sell marijuana following a recent U.S. Department of Justice memo allowing the practice on reservations even in states where marijuana is illegal.
The U.S. Department of Justice in December ruled that American Indian tribes can legalize marijuana on reservations as long as they follow conditions that also govern states like Colorado that have legalized marijuana. The requirements include preventing the drug's distribution to minors, ensuring that criminals don't benefit from its sale and preventing drugged driving.
Red Lake Nation's tribal council voted this week to conduct a feasibility study on the industry. David Manuel, an enrolled member of Red Lake Nation and an advocate for producing marijuana, argues that the industry would provide an economic opportunity for Red Lake.
When a tribe in California announced that they would be growing medical marijuana and selling it to California dispensaries, I wasn't that blown away. There are a lot of people growing marijuana and selling it to dispensaries in California already. I was waiting to see a tribe in a not-so-established marijuana state step up, such as the Red Lake Band of Chippewa in Minnesota. Marijuana is not nearly as accessible in Minnesota as it is in California, and I think that if the Minnesota tribe does indeed get into the marijuana industry, it could bring a huge economic boost to the tribe. Hopefully their study is favorable and they get started right away.