Monster Pot Raid on Tribal Territory in Modoc County; Feds Allege Connection With Canadian Tobacco Giant

CALIFORNIA:  A federal search warrant executed on a tribal grow op in Modoc County this morning alleges that a tiny northern California tribe today has partnered up with an executive of a huge Canadian tobacco concern to produce marijuana on a massive scale.

Officers from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Drug Enforcement Administration raided two sites on tribal land this morning — one of them a former “event center” for the five-member Alturas Rancheria, next to the tribe’s casino, and another a huge growing facility approximately eight miles east of the town of Alturas and immediately off Interstate 395. A press release — reprinted below — reports that agents discovered at least 10,000 growing marijuana plants and 100 pounds of processed bud during this morning’s raid.

None of that would seem like an absolutely huge deal on the Humboldt scale, but before skipping down to the press release it pays to take a look at the details included in the search warrants served today. Those details are absolutely bonkers.

Will Casino Country Become Cannabis Country?

WASHINGTON:  Last December the Justice Department gave a yellow light to marijuana legalization on tribal land, saying it would treat reservations like states in deciding how to enforce the Controlled Substances Act. Two months later, the very first Tribal Marijuana Conference, held at the Tulalip Resort Casino in Washington, attracted about 250 people, including representatives from 75 or so Indian tribes. They listened intently as speakers (including me) discussed the pros and cons of legalization.

“A great deal more are considering this than I thought would be considering it,” Ken Meshigaud, chairman of the Hannahville Indian Community in Michigan, told the Associated Press. “From an economic standpoint, it may be a good venture the tribes can get into.” Because of their sovereign status, Indian tribes are uniquely positioned to profit from the erosion of marijuana prohibition, although they still face some daunting legal pitfalls.

Start with the federal ban on marijuana, which makes anyone involved in growing or selling cannabis a felon, regardless of his status under state or tribal law. So far the Justice Department has allowed licensed marijuana businesses to operate in states that have legalized the drug for medical or recreational use. But the feds have not made any promises, and that policy is completely discretionary. It can be changed at any time, by this administration or the next.

 

Navajo Lawmaker Firm On Stance Against Legalizing Marijuana

ARIZONA:  A lawmaker on the country’s largest American Indian reservation has introduced a bill to reaffirm the tribe’s stance against legalizing marijuana.

Navajo Nation Council Delegate Edmund Yazzie says legalizing marijuana for medical or recreational use contradicts Navajo values and tradition.

His bill introduced this week comes in response to an announcement last year by the U.S. Department of Justice to allow American Indian tribes to grow and sell marijuana within certain guidelines.

Navajo lawmakers can take action on Yazzie’s bill after a public comment period.

Tribal Marijuana Conference: ‘A 10-Year Window For Tribes To Capitalize’

WASHINGTON:  On Saturday, February 28 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.

This followed a packed day on February 27 of “Tribal Marijuana Conference” presentations and panels with speakers as diverse as former U.S. Attorney Troy Eid, present chair of President Barack Obama’s National Indian Law and Order Commission, to the city attorneys of both Seattle and Boulder, Colorado who gave in-depth overviews of how implementation is proceeding in their respective cities of state laws legalizing marijuana possession and usage.

Tribes From Around US Gather To Discuss Legal Marijuana

WASHINGTON:  The Justice Department’s announcement in December that it would allow the nation’s Indian tribes to legalize and regulate marijuana on their reservations brought notes of caution — if not silence or opposition — from many tribes.

They were reluctant given the substance-abuse problems that already plague many reservations.

But the attendance at a conference on the topic Friday gave an early indication of just how many might be weighing it, even if a thicket of potential legal issues remain.

Representatives of about 75 tribes from around the country converged on the Tulalip Indian Tribes’ resort and casino for a $605-a-head seminar on the regulatory, legal and social issues related to pot legalization.

Lawmakers Want To Work With Tribes On Regulations For Legal Pot

WASHINGTON:  Now that tribes can legalize marijuana on their reservations, some lawmakers want to allow the state to set up agreements with tribes to address potential issues, such as law enforcement and ways licensed marijuana businesses could operate across reservation borders.

A bill with bipartisan support would give the governor the authority to negotiate legal agreements, known as compacts, similar to those now used for gambling and gasoline taxes.

While some tribes are eager to legalize marijuana and perhaps pursue it as an economic opportunity, others, including the Yakama Nation, remain strongly opposed to the drug. 

After the state legalized marijuana, the Yakama Nation announced that it would not allow possession, sale or production on the Yakamas’ 1.2 million-acre reservation.

 

Tribe To Look At Medicinal Marijuana, Hemp

MINNESOTA:  The Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians Tribal Council unanimously approved this week a study on how medicinal marijuana and industrial hemp could benefit the Red Lake Nation’s economic development.

However, serious doubts were raised about growing or use of recreational marijuana.

Many American Indian tribes began discussing the potential of marijuana and hemp on reservations after the federal Department of Justice released a memo Dec. 11 in response to some tribes requesting guidance on the enforcement of the Controlled Substance Act on tribal lands by the U.S. Attorneys’ offices.

“It came seemingly out of nowhere, the federal government says Indians can go ahead and grow marijuana,” said Michael Meuers, the Red Lake Band’s public relations representative. “Most tribes across the country are looking at this.”

Native Americans Considering Marijuana Sales

NEW YORK:  New York-area tribes are hashing out whether to grow and sell marijuana on their reservations after a Justice Department announcement that it won’t ban weed on Indian soil.

Officials at the Seneca Nation said they’re open to going into the pot business, but don’t want their land marketed as a stoner’s playground.

“We will take a very good close look at this and if we get engaged at all, we will do it in a responsible way,” the tribe’s legal counsel, Mark Seneca, told The Post.