Marijuana Bans Will Not Be Enforced On Tribal Lands, Justice Department States

Marijuana bans still exist in many states throughout the U.S., but on December 11, in a report from the Los Angeles Times, the Justice Department stated that tribal lands would not be subject to them, period.

The J.D. is telling U.S. attorneys that they should not prevent the growing and selling of marijuana on Native American lands, even in states where the drug is banned outright.

This opens the door for a potentially lucrative new industry for those who identify with one of the Tribes. The news site notes that in Southern California alone, there are 30 federal- and state-recognized tribes, totaling around 200,000 people in all.

Native Americans have capitalized on casino gambling and cigarette sales in the past whenever the government left the door open to them, and so many expect this could be a huge boon for less progressive areas of the U.S.

Conversely, if there are any tribes that wish to keep marijuana bans in place, the Justice Department has vowed support, even if it’s in areas like Colorado, where marijuana use as a whole is now legal.

As far as support against the marijuana bans is concerned, the Justice Department, in its memorandum, vowed to not enforce laws provided that tribes met federal guidelines (i.e. not selling to minors and not transporting to prohibited areas).

In other words, if you are of age and willing to go to tribal lands, you should be in the clear, though transport of the drug back to where you live would be illegal provided you live in a prohibited area.

Colorado U.S. attorney John Walsh told the Times that “a primary purpose of the memorandum… is to assure U.S. attorney offices and tribes that despite the changes in Justice Department policy announced last year, federal prosecutors still have the authority to prosecute marijuana felonies on tribal lands.”

Unhappy with the decision to tear down marijuana bans, legalization opponent Kevin A. Sabet, himself a former advisor to President Obama, found the news very troubling.

“It once again sends a message that we really don’t care about federal drug laws,” he said, adding that “Native Americans and their families suffer disproportionately from addiction compared to other groups. The last thing they want is another commercialized industry that targets them for greater use.”

What do you think about the Justice Department move of ignoring marijuana bans, readers? Sound off in the comments section.

[Image via ShutterStock]