The Oglala Lakota Tribe in South Dakota plate to vote on legalizing medical and recreational cannabis on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation. They’re hoping this initiative could bring money to the extremely impoverished area.
According to the Associated Press, this could be very lucrative, as currently, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Nebraska do not currently have legal cannabis. Tribe leaders believe they could collect a lot of money in sales revenue if they decide to legalize it, since they would be the only tribe around selling cannabis. “People will be coming in from all directions to get their medicine,” said Ricky Gray Grass, the Fifth Member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe (OST).
This issue will be put to the federal and state test when tribal members vote on whether to approve recreational cannabis, medical cannabis, and alcohol at the tribe’s casino. If changes are approved, tribal leaders will begin implementing them.
OST President Julian Bear Runner would like the right to cultivate and sell cannabis in order to serve as a jump-start to the local economy, provide jobs and fix roads and infrastructure with the money coming in.
Scott James, attorney general for the Oglala Lakota, said that these laws will apply to anyone, even if they aren’t members of the tribe, as long as they are on tribal land. This would allow them to sell to more than just folks in the tribe. Still, it’s not clear exactly how this will work.
“Marijuana enforcement is not the federal government’s highest priority at this point,” James said.
South Dakota residents will also be voting on medical and recreational cannabis this November, so they could end up legalizing cannabis on a state level as well. State legislators are also looking to legalize hemp sometime this year, and many activists are supporting change.