Law | National

Ho-Chunk Nation still moving cautiously after vote on marijuana

Results from the Ho-Chunk Nation general council meeting in Madison, Wisconsin, on September 19, 2015. Photo from Facebook

The Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin is still moving slowly when it comes to the legalization of marijuana.

The tribe hasn't taken any concrete steps to change its drug laws since members endorsed the idea in a non-binding referendum in September. But a legal opinion from Attorney General Amanda WhiteEagle warns of potentially negative consequences, The Jackson County Chronicle reports.

“Even if the state may not prosecute, the federal government may choose to do so," WhiteEagle wrote in the opinion, the paper reported.

A fellow tribe in Wisconsin, the Menominee Nation, saw that happen in October. Federal authorities destroyed the tribe's hemp crop and a lawsuit is pending in federal court.

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law despite a Department of Justice policy -- known as the Wilkinson memo -- seemingly opened the door to legal marijuana in Indian Country.

Apart from two tribes in Washington, though, no one has successfully grown marijuana or hemp without being raided by federal or state authorities.

Get the Story:
Ho-Chunk still mulling legalizing marijuana (The Jackson County Chronicle 12/9)
Ho-Chunk Nation launching comprehensive census (The Jackson County Chronicle 12/9)

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

Related Stories:
Menominee Nation asserts right to grow hemp in new lawsuit (11/18)
Hilary Bricken: DOJ sending mixed signals on tribal marijuana (11/17)
BIA looked for hemp while Menominee Nation chair was at NCAI (10/27)
Menominee Nation slams DEA raid of industrial hemp operation (10/26)
Ho-Chunk Nation goes slowly when it comes to legal marijuana (09/24)
Citizens of Ho-Chunk Nation endorse legalization of marijuana (9/21)

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