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Colville Tribes schedule June 13 referendum on legal marijuana






A sign on the Colville Reservation in Washington. Photo from Department of Transportation

Members of the Colville Tribes of Washington are being asked their views on marijuana.

The tribal council voted 11 to 0 to put the issue on the general election ballot on June 13. Although the outcome won't be binding, the result will help determine whether to move forward with legalization efforts.

"This issue has the potential to affect our community in long-term and meaningful ways, and we feel that it is necessary to give the membership an opportunity to weigh in on the issue before we make any decisions either for or against” Chairman Boyd said. “We respect and value the fact that each and every member of the community has a story to tell regarding whether or not they support marijuana, and this affords us an opportunity to at least gauge whether folks view this issue in a positive or negative light."

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law. But a new Department of Justice policy could open the door to tribes that want to legalize the drug

The policy says state law will be considered in determining whether to enforce federal drug law in Indian Country. Marijuana is legal for recreational purposes as a result of Initiative 502.

"I anticipate that since the state’s passage of I-502, most tribal members have an opinion on the issue, but we want to ensure that the membership feels informed and makes the decision that is right for them” Boyd said.

Relevant Documents:
Department of Justice Policy Statement Regarding Marijuana Issues in Indian Country (October 2014)

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