Long before cannabis prohibition took effect in the United States, Native Americans have practiced peyotism and have utilized just about every useful herb under the sun including hemp. The first legal grow operation is scheduled to go live in December 2015 in Flandreau, North Dakota. Cannabis is illegal in all forms in North Dakota. The Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe is now exercising their right to govern themselves on tribal lands.
June 11, The Flandreau Santee Sioux Indian Reservation legalized marijuana. The tribe hired Monarch America to construct and develop their first grow operation. Monarch America CEO Eric Hagen told USA Today “I want to encourage tribal leaders to continue to work with state authorities to better ensure … that both Indian and non-Indian persons are not put in harm’s way by the jurisdiction complexities being created by our federal government.” Flandreau will also build a store that sells both recreational and medical marijuana.
Hagen says that Monarch America will have higher security than any other legal state or tribal land. He’s even implemented RFID tracking devices so that they can track the marijuana each step of the way. To avoid prosecution, Hagen has taken substantial measures to stay on the down-low. Only one gram can be purchased at a time like a beer. Once consumed, a person can buy another gram. “It’s like beer and going to a bar. You don’t grab a six-pack, then drink one and try to walk out the door with the other five. Again, it’s just not going to happen.”
Predictably, the Flandreau police chief isn’t a fan of the idea. Police Chief Anthony Schrad said “You can purchase the marijuana in the lounge, but it seems to me it would be very easy to remove the RFID tag from the container you purchase it in, transfer the marijuana to your own personal vial and leave with it.” There are currently 566 federally recognized tribes in America that are exempt from federal law so long as they follow safety and no-diversion laws like in legal states. Earlier this month, the Alturas Indian Rancheria of California was busted for exceeding the limits imposed for marijuana cultivation.
Hagen and the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe hopes to avoid the mistakes that were made by other tribes by strictly adhering to the regulations.