Obama to Native Americans: Marijuana Legalization Is A-OK

In a completely unexpected move by the Obama Administration, the US Department of Justice released a memo on October 28 indicating to Native American tribes that they can engage in cannabis commerce–cultivation, processing and retail sales–as long as they comport with the existing eight rules put forward in a previous August 2013 Obama Administration memo allowing states the autonomy to develop cannabis-based businesses in states where voters have passed binding ballot initiatives or elected policymakers have passed reform legislation.

  • Distribution of marijuana to minors
  • Revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs and cartels
  • Diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal to states where it remains illegal
  • State-authorized marijuana activity being used as a cover for trafficking other illegal drugs or activity
  • Violence or the use of firearms as part of cultivation and distribution of marijuana
  • Drugged driving or the exacerbation of other negative health consequences associated with marijuana use
  • Growing marijuana on public lands
  • Marijuana possession or use on federal property

US News writes that “there are 326 federally recognized American Indian reservations, according to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Many reservations are in states that don’t allow marijuana for medical or recreational use, such as Oklahoma, Utah and the Dakotas. Others are located near major East Coast cities and far from legal pot stores in the West.

“The tribes have the sovereign right to set the code on their reservations,” U.S. attorney for North Dakota Timothy Purdon, chairman of the Attorney General’s Subcommittee on Native American Issues, told the Times.

In a statement, the Department of Justice said U.S. attorneys will review tribal marijuana policies on a case-by-case basis and that prosecutors retain the right to enforce federal law.

“Each U.S. attorney will assess the threats and circumstances in his or her district, and consult closely with tribal partners and the Justice Department when significant issues or enforcement decisions arise in this area,” the statement says. 

Read the DOJ memo allowing Native American tribes to regulate cannabis-related businesses here.

A detailed map of Native American tribes is found here.

63 thoughts

  1. how is obama saying its ok ? Please help me understand. – Angel

    I’m confused too!

    Federally illegal except on Federal Land…Huh?…It’s beginning to look a lot like chaos….Every where I go?

  2. Dear Santa,

    All I want for Christmas is to be free to use a beneficial herb…Do I ask for too much?

    Next Christmas may be too late for many elderly suffering patients.

    Yesterday is gone and tomorrow may never be ours.

    It’s always right now…and now is the time.

    For many people it’s now or never!

  3. Its about time obama wised up and finally left it up to us, the Indigenous Peoples of this “Land of the free” known as America… The Legalization and Decriminalization of the plant Marijuana for both medical and recreational use would greatly benefit the numerous ill stricken people thru out the reservations, And would pull Many Tribes (Eg: My Tribe the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians) Out of a critical debt crisis all they’re own. So I For One As An Enrolled Member of the EBCI am proud of and respect the direction Obama is taking in Legalizing and Decriminalizing The Harmless Plant Marijuana. FREE THE PLANT!!

  4. I am Cherokee; I have had the dream of an eagle, I have seen Tlunwa, I was 7; I have seen the craft of a Star Person; I have seen the great hunter, and heard the very yell of he; fear Not Edoda, listen to Edodo Unole; listen to the old ones; do not give into the lack of whits…alcohol, was “harmless,” too…no major effects…the “ONLY,” repercussions had been to eat less, (“good for your health,”), maybe sleep more, (“critical for wellbeing,’), proven that even on less competent with body-maintaing would notice positively drastic improvements. I have had visions with Chanting with Thunderbeings, noticing thunder beast, (Yanasa, bison), running across skies in cloud form within the land of Oklahoma, dashing from lightning made by Tlunwa, and Asgnya Gigaga, (The Red Man). WithOUT mind altering, physical/spirit world separating use of the DRUG “grass.” Do not give into the nonsense; they give us a bad substance again…vote! Vote! Vote No.1 “Vote for Me! Vote for Me! For the freedom of a harmless DRUG…a harmless substance…” Clouded mindedness equals what? Easily swayed voted peoples/corrupted political standpoints. Being of Irish descent as well, “Hate the black man…hate the slave…it is all ‘His,’ Fault…hang them, why fight for the very people who shunned you all into the smoky mountains and California mines where you can die?!” “Down with the damn Irish…they over run us…here, vote TWICE, and earn your job back…drink on it…drink on it…DRINK ON IT.” See my meaning? As Charlie, I come to you all with a warning/a message…open up your Hearts, walk the path…see my meaning.

  5. “The tribes have the sovereign right to set the code on their reservations,” U.S. attorney for North Dakota Timothy Purdon, chairman of the Attorney General’s Subcommittee on Native American Issues, told the Times.

  6. im 100% apache tarahumara native american mexican indian. as an 8th grader i thought i was told that there was an article added to the constitution that allowed nat american mex indians to be able to possess marijuana and grow it in the usa. all u had to be was at least 50% nat american mex indian. this article was added when the indian laws were enacted.am i or are we being denied our tru and unalienable indian rights.it seems as though the feds are making up there own laws now and denying our god given rights.or im i crazy like every body else. AMEN

  7. When will someone sue Casino’s, and tribes lands for trying to enforce laws that aren’t. Meaning in Oregon where marijuana is legal now, there are signs as you enter a casino saying:
    Despite legalization, if caught here you will be prosecuted under federal law. This needs to stop.

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