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As we’ve previously written, the legislature is in session and lawmakers are scrambling to pass a slew of bills that would each change what people legally can and can’t do with pot in Washington state.
The sea of pot legislation introduced this session includes a pair of bills which appear to have legs and haven’t received much attention that would pave the way for the state’s 29 federally recognized Indian tribes to begin growing and selling marijuana on their lands. The issue matters because in December, the federal government announced that Indian tribes could grow and sell marijuana on their lands as long as it was regulated.
Scott Wheat, general counsel for the Spokane Tribe of Indians, points to what’s widely known as the “Cole memo,” a U.S. Justice Department document that was circulated to federal law enforcement after Washington and Colorado legalized marijuana, for why this legislation is needed. The memo basically says that the feds will mellow on states legalizing marijuana as long as they have strong regulatory structures in place that prevent the drug from falling into the hands of organized crime or minors, among other safeguards.
“So concern is that if tribes enter the marijuana economy they do so with a strong regulatory structure,” says Wheat.
There’s a version of the bill in the House and another in the Senate. The House version has already cleared a few legislative hurdles. If it passes, it would allow the governor to hash out agreements with the state’s federally recognized Indian tribes regarding pot. These agreements would cover criminal and civil law enforcement, taxation, public health and other issues.
“Without the framework of a compacting system I think it’s problematic in a couple different ways,” said Rep. Christopher Hurst, D- Enumclaw, the sponsor of the bill in a legislative hearing.
Although the Justice Department gave the green light to tribes to grow marijuana, many have had issues with drug and alcohol use and are reluctant to embrace another substance. The Yakima Tribe, for instance, has sought to ban all pot businesses within its territory. Other tribes, like California’s Pinoleville Pomo Nation are moving forward with plans to start growing medical marijuana, and 100 other tribes have expressed interest in the pot business.
Here’s the news elsewhere:
A bill overhauling Washington state’s medical and recreational marijuana systems has passed the Senate.
Critics of the legislation are worried that it will make medical marijuana less accessible. In Uruguay, a South American country that legalized marijuana, similar concerns are being realized as medical pot has already become more expensive than recreational.
Apple changed its mind and will allow pot-related apps on iTunes.
In honor of President’s Day, The Daily Beast has an article that suggests that many U.S. presidents smoked pot.