Opinion

Charles Kader: Medical marijuana plan might help out tribes





Charles Kader discusses a proposal to allow hospitals in New York to dispense medical marijuana and how it could affect tribes:
I would advocate that hospitals near the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-designated Superfund sites in New York State be given priority as “high intensity” pollution locations. Furthermore, the doubled injury of American Indian reserves being located in these regions should elevate the hospital status even one step further to designation to medical marijuana prescription status. Onondaga, Cattaraugus, and Tuscarora reserves are just some of the polluted Native lands adjacent to New York State.

One aspect of the original law is the procurement of the prescribed medical marijuana. The law allowed some flexibility in how the pharmaceutical marijuana would be attained. The law would be discharged, in part, by the New York State Commissioner of Health. The law reads: "if, within a reasonable time, the commissioner is unable to obtain controlled substances pursuant to subdivision one of this section (from federal government sources), he shall conduct an inventory of available sources of such drugs, including but not limited to the New York state police bureau of criminal investigation and local law enforcement officials." In other words, the medical marijuana could be previously seized as drug evidence.

This is a particularly ironic aspect of this executive initiative. The St. Regis Indian Reservation, also known as Akwesasne, is located near three EPA Superfund sites. The reserve has been repeatedly blamed by state and federal officials for a significant volume of high-grade marijuana entering the United States. Some tribal police in Akwesasne are cross-sworn as federal agents in part to combat the apparently thriving drug trade. Many hundreds of pounds of this imported marijuana have thus been confiscated.

Get the Story:
Charles Kader: Set New York Free! Legalize Pot! (Indian Country Today 1/25)