Marijuana

South Dakota Indian Reservation Becomes First to Approve Pot Sales

The Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe plans to offer marijuana as early as this fall.

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Royal River Casino

KELO, the CBS station in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, reports that "the Flandreau Santee Sioux Indian Reservation has legalized the sale and use of marijuana on tribal land." That decision makes the Flandreau Santee Sioux the first tribe to take advantage of a Justice Department memo issued last December that said the feds would treat marijuana enterprises in Indian country the same as marijuana enterprises in states that have legalized the drug for medical or recreational use—meaning they would generally be left unmolested as long as they complied with local rules and did not implicate "federal law enforcement priorities." The memo provoked much discussion of potential cannabusiness opportunities for tribes, whether located in states that have legalized marijuana or, more controversially, in states that have not.

South Dakota, where marijuana is banned for all purposes, falls into the latter category. Furthermore, it is one of 15 states that Public Law 280, enacted by Congress in 1953, let assume jurisdiction over crimes committed on tribal lands within their borders. But South Dakota never exercised that option, except on state highways that traverse reservations. KELO says "plans call for one facility where marijuana will be grown, and another place to buy and use the drug for medicinal and recreational use for those over 21." Under the ordinance approved by Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribal Executive Committee last Thursday, purchases will be limited to one gram at a time. Customers will have to obtain "registration cards" and consume whatever they buy on the reservation, since taking it elsewhere would violate South Dakota law.

"We're really kind of hoping that people treat it much like alcohol," tribal attorney Seth Pearman told KELO. "We still would allow people to stay at our hotel, which would be the most ideal situation for us, but drugged driving is a major concern that we hope to curb, and by having such a small quantity, we hope that people don't overconsume." KELO says the marijuana store "could be up and running by as early as this fall."

The reservation, site of the Royal River Casino, is located in Flandreau, about 40 miles north of Sioux Falls, 200 miles west of Minneapolis, and 200 or so miles north of Omaha. It is about a two-hour drive from Sioux City, Iowa, and about the same distance from the Nebraska border. No word yet on whether Nebraska plans to sue.

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  1. Sullum, you’re great.

  2. This is why Elizabeth Warren isn’t running for president. The media would tie this to her campaign like wampum on a prize squaw.

    1. High cheeks make big piece with chief kankles, smoke many a peace pipe.

  3. Rethinking SD.

  4. That decision makes the Flandreau Santee Sioux the first tribe to take advantage of a Justice Department memo issued last December that said the feds would treat marijuana enterprises in Indian country the same as marijuana enterprises in states that have legalized the drug for medical or recreational use

    Can somebody explain the legal status of Indian tribes? I thought reservations were essentially sovereign territory.

    1. Here is a nice concise summary – https://youtu.be/GZr7ADxLff8

    2. In historical practice, reservations are sovereign territory right up to the moment that white authority gets its nickers in a bunch. Any white authority, from the President on down to some local bureaucrat. Over the last several decades the Tribes have been fighting that, pushing it back trough the courts, and forcing various busybody agencies to back the f*ck off. And good on them, too.

  5. One gram at a time? Is that even a dime bag?

    {include src=”Injun from India Disclaimer”}

    1. Is that even a dime bag?

      No, it’s not even a nickle bag. Grams are what one gets at the neighborhood bodega for about $25 each (in NYC).

      1. A dime bag is whatever $10 gets you. Or does it mean something else now?

        1. I’ve never seen anyone selling such a small amount; I always assumed it was outdated slang, like lid (Fat Freddy, take our last bit of cash and go score us a lid; don’t get burned this time.)

    2. well if you’ve gotta consume on site that shouldn’t be a really big deal. kinda like buy a drink at a time at a bar (though i think, not sure, that a gram is more like an evenings worth for 1 person)

    3. well if you’ve gotta consume on site that shouldn’t be a really big deal. kinda like buy a drink at a time at a bar (though i think, not sure, that a gram is more like an evenings worth for 1 person)

  6. “No word yet on whether Nebraska plans to sue.”

    Why would Nebraska sue an Indian reservation located in South Dakota?

    1. Same reason they sued Colorado.

  7. Better than firewater.

    …is what a racist jerk would say

  8. I keep waiting for one pro more Tribes to decide to fight the Whites on tobacco sales and tax. Unless my understanding is completely wrong (always possible), unlike marijuana or peyote, tobacco was widely used by most tribes as a sacrament, and one that every adult tribe member used regularly. That would fit in nicely with a couple of legal precedents. During Prohibition, in order to get around the free exercise of religion, Catholic Priests were allowed access to wine AND so were adult male heads of Jewish households. Because it was a sacrament, and those were the people who administered it. I could see a tribe (or several) saying “Tobacco is a sacrament. We do not recognize the State’s right to collect tax on a sacrament, and will not collect same. And since not all tribe members live of the reservation, we will not collect tax or information on mail order purchases.”

    I think the anti-smoking hysterics would have a cow, breach presentation.

    1. You used to be able to mail order cheap smokes from reservations. Something changed that seemed to stop most of that.

  9. I’ve floated this before…

    http://www.al.com/news/index.s…..a_let.html

  10. I’ve long thought Indian Reservations should start opening brothels and opium dens. After all, it’s their sovereign land. They should be able to do literally anything they want and the Feds should have no say. Not that that used to stop them from shutting down the casinos in California before they passed a proposition to legalize gambling.

  11. “drugged driving is a major concern that we hope to curb”

    Yes and clearly the best way to do that is to try to ensure people consume it on the reservation before getting in their car and driving home. This is still better than almost everywhere else however.

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