In an announcement today, US Attorney Amanda Marshall from Oregon stated that Indian tribes are allowed to grow and sell marijuana on their lands. However, they are required to follow the same conditions set by the Federal government for states in which pot is legalized.
Although only a few tribes have shown interest in growing and selling pot at this time, they have had questions about how legalized marijuana would apply to their lands much the same as in states to include Colorado, Oregon, and Washington. As expressed by Marshall, these questions need to be addressed, specifically how the US as Federal partners help tribes protect families and children, businesses, and housing.
The other big question pertains to the way that the Indian County abuse of marijuana will be fought when there are not more states to partner with. Marshall added that the announcement is not to be taken as a green light to authorities of Indian tribes and that under Federal law, growing and selling it remains illegal.
The priorities of the US government’s prosecution is on gang activity, violence, trafficking, and the sale to small children associated with marijuana. For tribes who have lands in states where pot is still illegal, various problems could arise because there is a strong chance that the drug would be sold outside of boundaries or transported.
Currently, the Federal government recognized 566 Indian tribes so in order for this to actually happen, a tremendous amount of discussions need to take place between Federal prosecutors and tribes. Because Indian tribes are sovereign nations, many maintain their own police. However, there are some tribes that rely on local and state police and enforcement under Federal law.
Marshall also said that minor cases will not be prosecuted by the Federal government because of the vast territory and limited resources.
This policy is based on the August 2013 “Cole Memo”, which was named after the deputy attorney general who wrote it. This Justice Department memo states that as long as legalization states regulate the drug tightly and take appropriate measures to keep it from Federal property, criminal cartels, and children, the Federal government will not intervene.
In addition, US attorneys reserve the right to prosecute based on eight specific issues. These include the sale of marijuana to children, shipping the drug to states where it is deemed illegal, using the proceeds from sales for criminal enterprises, possessing pot on Federal land, making illegal sales, growing in public land, various public health issues such as drugged driving, and firearms and violence.