Although previous reports indicated that Native American tribes were apprehensive over the federal government’s prosecution free offer to allow the operation of a recreational marijuana industry on tribal lands, the latest word is that a plethora of tribes have since come forward with interest in selling cannabis.
A recent article from The Huffington Post claims that as many as 100 tribes have contacted FoxBarry Farms, a company that assists in the economic development of tribal communities, with a great deal of enthusiasm in the past month, over establishing operations in the recreational marijuana trade.
“I really underestimated,” said FoxBarry Farms CEO Barry Brautman, adding that there has been an outpouring of interest in the tribal cannabis industry ever since the Department of Justice made the announcement in December. “So many tribes are wanting to do this right now.”
The Associated Press reported weeks ago that FoxBarry Farms had been contracted to build a $10 million indoor medical marijuana facility for the Pinoleville Pomo Nation in northern California. Apparently, the news of the first tribe to take a leap of faith on the promise that Uncle Sam would not longer prosecute endeavors of this nature spawned an avalanche of green-eyed tribes with visions of improving their economic climate.
“Tribes want what any government wants for its people, and that’s financial independence,” said Brautman. “They want to earn their own money, provide education, health care and housing. This new industry allows them to be more economically independent.”
Towards the end of 2014, the Department of Justice issued a memo stating that they would no longer interfere with Native American tribes that want to grow and sell marijuana on tribal lands. However, while this proclamation amped up cannabis supporters across the nation, there did not appear to be much excitement coming from the Native American community. Many were simply hesitant because they felt the wording of the memo was too vague and left them susceptible to a federal shakedown.
Yet, Brautman claims he was involved in some preliminary planning with one tribe in regards to the marijuana trade before the government even had a chance to make the announcement. I knew it was coming, he said. “We did our research and found that the federal government defers to local jurisdictions on how they’re going to deal with marijuana. By the definition of sovereign territories, tribal reservations are exactly the same as local jurisdictions.”
Unfortunately, there are some limitations, at least where FoxBarry is concerned, for building marijuana grow operations on certain tribal territories. Brautman says he will only take on projects with tribes whose land is inside states with a legal marijuana framework already in place. “If an individual visits a reservation, purchases a product, then leaves, they’re now in possession of a controlled substance,” he said. “Although [tribes] still have the ability to do this legally, I don’t think it makes sense from a business perspective.”