California tribes try and sell marijuana under their own sovereignty.

Photo by @mjaysocal

By Marieval Yebra

By now most of us have heard about the legalization of marijuana. Right, who hasn’t? Weed is now recreational! Bigger headline than the one stating who the newest president was after our last election. Though some of us seem to forget the insane of scrutiny that surrounds the issue and laws that one must abide by.

A couple of years ago, most of us heard about Native Americans being able to grow legally on reservation land. Hey, why not, right. After all, most Native American tribes are sovereign nations, so it’s only right that they are allowed that freedom. (Only saying most Native American tribes are sovereign since not all tribes are recognized by the government)

Well, Native Americans in most states are given the right to grow and sell cannabis under their rights. As long as they follow the state’s regulations having to do with medicinal and recreational marijuana, they are in the clear. In Washington, tribes have an agreement with the states’ governor in which they will operate under their own sovereign regulations although they will still pay the state-regulated tax.  So pretty much they can grow as they see fit, which also allows room for expansion when it comes to their cannabis-based business.

Even in Nevada, where the laws regulating marijuana have been some of the strictest in the country,  there has been a bill passed  SB 375 which allows tribal members to transport marijuana between the reservations and the rest of the state.

Now if you’re a tribe in California, the laws regulating medicinal and recreational are pretty strict.  According to the temporary laws for regulating the cannabis market, California tribes hoping to partake in the green rush have to waive their “sovereign immunities” in order to apply for a cannabis license.   

That’s right, tribes that would like to expand their business marketplace have to give up their sovereign rights, which means they won’t live under their own laws and regulations. So its either give up the rights that were given to them, or they get a no-go when it comes to expanding into the cannabis market.

That’s not to say that certain California tribes have not done their part in trying to get legislators to change their minds. A letter has been written to the state stating that tribes are allowed to cultivate and dispense marijuana under their laws and regulations that come with being a sovereign nation and tribes will work toward exercising those rights.

Since federal laws still legally regulate cannabis and anything having to do with sales, etc., it leaves native Americans in a gray area. Especially those in California.  Let’s hope that the state and it’s tribes can come to an agreement that will satisfy the state as well as its people.