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Senate bill bars federal funds to tribes that grow marijuana

Sen. James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) is a new member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. Photo from Facebook

Sen. James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) introduced a bill on Wednesday that punishes tribes for growing marijuana.

S.1984, the Keeping out Illegal Drugs Act of 2015, bars tribes that cultivate, manufacture or distribute marijuana from receiving federal funds. He said he was taking action to protect young Native Americans from the influence of drugs.

"The Native American community experiences the highest drug induced death rate in the country," Lankford said in a press release. "It is important for our nation to help address this issue for the sake of the next generation of Native Americans."

Marijuana is illegal under federal law. But the Department of Justice opened the door to legal forms of the drug in Indian Country with the 2014 Wilkinson memo.

Indianz.Com SoundCloud: Oversight Hearing on "Examining the True Costs of Alcohol and Drug Abuse in Native Communities"

Tribes across the nation have expressed interest in developing marijuana. Except for a couple in California and one in South Dakota, most are moving very cautiously by examining the economic, social and other impacts of a drug that is legal in some form in nearly two dozen states.

The issue came up during a Senate Indian Affairs Committee last month when a non-Indian witness urged Congress to prevent tribes from exercising their own judgment on the matter. Lankford prodded the tribal representatives to respond but only one discussed how legal marijuana from Colorado is being seen in Wyoming.

Get the Story:
Lankford aims to link pot, tribes’ funds (The Oklahoman 8/7)

Committee Notice:
Oversight Hearing on "Examining the True Costs of Alcohol and Drug Abuse in Native Communities." (July 29, 2015)

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