There has been talk about Native American tribes looking to open a banking system that marijuana companies would be able to deposit their money into legally. Now, however, they are going a step further; the Omaha Tribe in Nebraska is looking into legalizing marijuana, but tribal experts fear that doing so would make the tribe lose money rather than gain. On Tuesday, the members of the Omaha Tribe will be voting on whether or not they should legalize marijuana for recreational and medical uses, as well as industrial hemp on its reservation.
The final decision, though, will come from the Tribal Council. The voting that will occur on Tuesday only serves as guidance on whether or not the council should take the issue up. According to CEO of the Winnebago Tribe’s economic development arm, Ho-Chunk Inc., it would be very hard for the tribe to manufacture and legalize the use of marijuana on its reservation even if the U.S. Department of Justice issued a memo just a year ago on that very topic. Morgan stated that the memo does not actually give tribes permission to legalize marijuana, but instead, gives them the capability to work with attorneys to do so.
The bad news is that many U.S. attorneys have not been willing to work with tribes to allow legalization. Morgan used federal raids of tribal hemp fields in California and Wisconsin as a main example of unwillingness; federal agents destroyed thousands of hemp and cannabis plants during the raiding. The Justice Department memo has given many tribes across the country to make attempts at joining in on the marijuana industry, according to Morgan. Again, though, some tribes have recently had the misfortune of discovering that they do not actually have the right to legalize marijuana.
“This is just one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen come out of D.C.,” Morgan stated. “Encouraging us to invest capital, and then coming in and destroying that capital and raiding the tribe doesn’t make any sense at all.”