Cannabis And Indian Country: Basics 101

Law360, New York (April 6, 2015, 6:52 PM EDT) -- Without understanding the facts about Cannabis sativa, commonly referred to as cannabis or marijuana, tribes and tribal partners cannot determine whether the cannabis industry — and which part of the cannabis industry — represents a positive economic development opportunity for tribes. On one hand, cannabis consultants have been seeking out tribes with a "wild west" attitude, assuring tribes that they have "complete immunity" in the industry.[1] On the other hand, some tribes have chosen to stay far away from the industry, relying on the current state of affairs that cannabis is illegal under federal law.[2] Cannabis as economic development in Indian Country has clouded our vision. But to see past the smoke and promised profits, tribal leaders and advocates, as well as the cannabis industry, must proceed thoughtfully and look at the facts and law as applied specifically to a particular tribe's Indian Country in order to determine how cannabis might be used as a viable economic development opportunity by that tribe. This article provides an overview of industry information as well as federal Indian law as a starting point for analysis for any particular tribe....

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