Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe won't give up plan for marijuana

The marijuana resort was going in a building that housed the Royal River Family Entertainment Center in Flandreau, South Dakota. Image from Google Maps

The Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe of South Dakota has met with state and federal officials in hopes of keeping its marijuana dream alive.

The tribe was due to open a marijuana resort on December 31. The operation attracted widespread interest but also drew legal concerns from the state and federal officials.

Fearing a raid like those that have hit other parts of Indian Country, the tribe destroyed it marijuana crop earlier this month. Talks have continued with officials as work continues on the facility, The Moody County Enterprise reported.

"The tribe intends to continue these discussions locally, and at the national level with the U.S. Department of Justice before it starts to regrow and open its lounge," attorney Seth Pearman said in a statement to the paper.

President Tony Reider told the AP that the sale of marijuana to non-Indians and the origin of the tribe's crop are among the issues that need to be resolved.

Elsewhere, the Menominee Nation of Wisconsin filed a lawsuit in federal court on Wednesday, asserting a right to grow hemp on the reservation. The tribe's operation was raided last month and its crop was destroyed by the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law although the Department of Justice seemingly opened the door to the drug in Indian Country with the 2014 Wilkinson memo. The policy, however, has not stopped federal or state raids on tribal marijuana operations.

So far only the Squaxin Island Tribe in Washington, where the drug is legal for recreational and other purposes, has successfully opened a marijuana outlet. The Suquamish Tribe is also about to join the industry.

"Everybody who is smart is pausing to look at the feasibility and risks of growing hemp and marijuana," Lance Gumbs, a regional vice president of the National Congress of American Indians, said at the Reservation Economic Summit in New Mexico this week, the AP reported. "But are we giving up on it? Absolutely not."

Get the Story:
The Lights Remain On (The Moody County Enterprise 11/17)
Legal Experts Urge Caution as Tribes Enter Pot Business (AP 11/18)
Report from the Front: The Trouble with Cannabis in Indian Country (Leafly 11/18)
Menominee tribe files federal lawsuit over marijuana growing (The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 11/18)

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

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