After a U.S. Justice Department ruling last year, Native tribes are cashing in on their right to govern themselves on tribal grounds. Several tribes have already legalized cannabis. Tuesday members of the Seneca Nation in New York approved a referendum opening the door for regulations over the manufacturing and distribution of cannabis. It’s only the latest Native American tribe to cash in on the green rush.
Members voted in favor of medical cannabis 448-264, approving the referendum. “A decision on our nation’s path of action on medical cannabis is far from made,” Seneca President Maurice John Jr. said. “but now, having heard from the Seneca people, our discussions, and due diligence can begin in earnest.”
Since the U.S. Justice Department ruling in October 2014, native tribes have been trying to cash in including the Santee Sioux and The Acjachemen Nation. The Santee Sioux plan to open a cannabis resort in Flandreau, South Dakota. The Santee Sioux will sell cannabis using a bar model, rather than a dispensary model. Users buy one gram at a time. Anthony Rivera Jr., the leader of the Acjachemen Nation in Southern California, hopes to link 566 sovereign native nations and open a cannabis credit union, CannaNative™. Rivera is also working with armored truck company Medical Marijuana’s MPSI. Rivera cites cannabis as a way for his people to learn self-reliance.
In addition, the Menominee Tribe of Wisconsin approved a similar referendum. The Menominee, however, were still raided by the DEA last month. The DEA typically raids native lands if they grow beyond the regulated limits. Tribal nations in Southern California were also raided last July.
In July 2014, Governor Andrew Cuomo legalized medical cannabis in the state of New York. The Seneca Nation of New York is now seeking to open cannabis businesses. “I think this is an opportunity for the Senecas to pursue staying on the front end of something that’s an emerging industry,” local radio host John Kane, who lives on the Seneca’s Cattaraugus territory, told WGRZ.
The Seneca hope to grow and sell cannabis like other tribes in America. “The first step from here is establishing a thoughtful regulation for how the Seneca Nation could potentially move forward,” John said.