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Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe puts hold on marijuana resort






The marijuana was 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 won't open a marijuana resort on December 31 as planned due to legal concerns at the state and federal level.

The tribe said it was burning all of the marijuana it had been growing for the facility. Officials plan to consult with the state and federal government before moving forward, attorney Seth C. Pearman said in a statement.

"The tribe intends to successfully participate in the marijuana industry, and tribal leadership is undaunted by this brief sidestep," the statement read.

Although officials remain optimistic, the decision is a major blow to the highly-anticipated launch of the facility, which was being built in a structure that houses the Royal River Family Entertainment Center on the reservation. The tribe was expecting a huge turnout for the opening on New Year's Eve and Indian Country was closely watching the project because it was going to be the first "resort" concept.

Yet there were serious doubts -- Attorney General Marty Jackley was warning non-Indians that they would face prosecution for using the drug on the reservation. He plans to talk with the tribe going forward.

Federal authorities haven't said anything publicly. But they have raided marijuana operations on two reservations in California and a hemp operation on a reservation in Wisconsin, calling into question the activities of any tribe that tries to enter the emerging industry.

The raids came despite a Department of Justice policy -- known as the 2014 Wilkinson memo -- that seemingly opened the door to legal marijuana in Indian Country.

With that in mind, the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe voted 5-1 in June to legalize marijuana and approved a comprehensive set of laws and policies to address the sale and use of the drug but that apparently wasn't enough to dispel concerns about the operation.

Get the Story:
Flandreau suspends pot plan (KSFY 11/9)
Flandreau tribe temporarily suspending marijuana operations (The Sioux Falls Argus Leader 11/8)
Tribal Members React to Marijuana Grow Closing Down (KELO 11/8)
Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe Burns Crop, Suspends Marijuana Operation (Indian Country Today 11/8)
Hillary Clinton Proposes More Research Into Medicinal Marijuana (The New York Times 11/8)
Flandreau area residents against marijuana plan relieved (KSFY 11/7)
Santee Sioux Tribe Suspends Marijuana Operation (KELO 11/7)
AG Jackley: New Flandreau Negotiations as Early as Monday (KDLT 11/7)
Flandreau tribe destroying pot crop, suspending sales/distribution plans (AP 11/7)
Lawyer: South Dakota tribe destroying marijuana crop (AP 11/7)
Rosebud Pot Watch (AP 11/5)

An Opinion:
Editorial: Marijuana latest vice for tribes to exploit? (The McCook Gazette 11/6)

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

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Kim Patterson: Tribe makes bad call with marijuana resort (11/04)
Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe eyes revenues from marijuana (10/21)
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Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe expects big crowd for pot kickoff (10/6)
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Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe reports strong interest in pot resort (10/1)
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