Tribes Split Over Legalization of Pot

“When it comes to marijuana laws, the Justice Department is now treating American Indian tribes the way it treats states that have legalized pot. The move, announced in December, has inadvertently sparked interest in the marijuana business. While many see dollar signs, others worry about contributing to the impact substance abuse has already had on Indian Country.” L. Morales, NPR

Havasupai Tribe Chairman Rex Tilousi was relieved to hear the Justice Department was recognizing tribal sovereignty when it comes to marijuana. NPR

Havasupai Tribe Chairman Rex Tilousi was relieved to hear the Justice Department was recognizing tribal sovereignty when it comes to marijuana. NPR

Excerpt: Pot Policy Splits Native Americans By Laurel Morales NPR

“Havasupai Tribe Chairman Rex Tilousi says he was relieved to hear the Justice Department was recognizing tribal sovereignty when it comes to marijuana.

The Havasupai people have been living in the Grand Canyon for at least 800 years. Photo-omgfacts.com

The Havasupai people have been living in the Grand Canyon for at least 800 years. Photo-omgfacts.com

His tribe has grown and smoked marijuana plants for over a century near the Grand Canyon…The Havasupai make what little money they have by taking visitors on mule and helicopter to see their famous turquoise-blue waterfalls.

 The Havasupai  see pot legalization as an alternative economic source. NPR

The Havasupai see pot legalization as an alternative economic source. NPR

However, tourism is seasonal. Tilousi says having another economic source — like growing and selling medical marijuana — would help his people.

Some tribes worry about contributing to the existing problem of substance abuse. PhotoThe dailybeast

Some tribes worry about contributing to the existing problem of substance abuse. PhotoThe dailybeast

Since the Justice Department’s memo was released, FoxBarry Farms has been inundated with more than a hundred calls from tribes that want to start growing operations.

All tribes, generally speaking, want the same thing — and that’s economic independence, says Barry Brautman, the president of FoxBarry, which helps tribes build casinos, hotels and, now, medical marijuana operations.

They want housing, health care, education, They want to be able to fund those things themselves without having to ask for government’s assistance.

The Pomo Nation, will be the first to grow and manufacture medical marijuana.

The Pomo Nation, will be the first to grow and manufacture medical marijuana.

A tiny northern California tribe, the Pinoleville Pomo Nation, will be the first to grow and manufacture medical marijuana. FoxBarry Farms is helping the tribe build a $10 million grow house.

“I felt very free,” he says. “I don’t have to hide behind that rock. I don’t have to go into those bushes to smoke.” ~ Havasupai Tribe Chairman Rex Tilousi~

Category: Law