Native American tribes can legally grow and sell marijuana on their lands as long as they follow the same federal guidelines for states that have legalized it, the U.S. Justice Department announced Thursday.
The announcement came after tribes in Colorado, Washington, and Oregon asked how legalization in their states would affect them. According to Oregon U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall, who helped develop the policy, three undisclosed tribes so far have expressed interest in growing and selling on their land—one in Washington, one in California, and one in the Midwest.
Tribes that choose to sell marijuana will not be subject to state and local taxes, giving them a leg-up on the competition and the ability to undercut state prices. However, many tribes see a potential for self-destruction in addition to the potential for profit.
“If tribes can balance all the potential social issues, it could really be a huge opportunity,” Seattle attorney Anthony Broadman, who represents multiple tribal governments, told the Huffington Post. “Indian tribes have been decimated by drug use. Tribal regulations of pot are going to have to dovetail with tribal values, making sure marijuana isn’t a scourge like alcohol or tobacco.”
I doubt that marijuana, which grows from the earth and has spiritual roots in many tribes’ culture, will become the ‘scourge’ to Native Americans that alcohol has. It’s the right decision to let Indian nations decide what is best for themselves on the land they still have and reap whatever profits decriminalization and cannabusiness can bring them. Anyways, much like alcohol use, degenerate pot smoking has never been nearly as harmful as degenerate gambling.