Marijuana

From Casinos To Cannabis: Indian Tribes Eye Pot Profits

Tribal leaders explore the business opportunities created by the erosion of marijuana prohibition.

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Jacob Sullum

Last month I spoke at a conference in Washington state on the intersection between tribal law and newly legal marijuana markets. In my latest Forbes column, I explain how tribal sovereignty creates cannabusiness opportunities:

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.

Read the whole thing.

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  1. Never understood how the states or federal government have the right to tell Indians what they can and can’t do on their property. Aren’t reservations supposed to be sovereign lands that operate like their own country? If so, why can’t they all open casinos, opium dens, brothels, and weed shops?

    1. Unfortunately, they exist perpetually in “the bitch” position.

      1. Not entirely. Don’t know the agreements with other states, but in California the Indian casinos pay no taxes to the state. Yet they contribute heavily to help candidates (always Democrats) get elected and create legislation that benefits them. Something profoundly wrong with that arrangement.

        1. Oh, interesting question – do reservation-living indians vote in state elections? Do they vote in the municipal elections?

          If they aren’t allowed to make political contributions, then neither should foreign nationals.

          1. Yes, in California they also vote in state (and I assume federal) elections. But yeah, I see them as a foreign country. I’m OK with them not paying taxes so long as they don’t lobby or use their money to influence elections. But if they want to participate in the political process then they can start paying taxes like the rest of us.

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