Several congressional leaders are looking to include language that would protect Native American tribes from being penalized by the federal government for legalizing cannabis within their territories in a variety of funding bills.
In 2014, the federal government stated that tribes were allowed to grow and sell cannabis as long as they followed the same federal guidelines set for states that had legalized cannabis. The lawmakers now want it codified into law that the federal government cannot persecute Indian tribes that legalize cannabis within their territories.
More specifically, the new cannabis provision would forbid federal funds appropriated to agencies within the Justice, Interior Department, Office of Justice Services and Bureau of Indian Affairs from being used to enforce cannabis prohibition in Native American territories where marijuana is legal. The provision states that federal funds not be used in the enforcement of federal laws that criminalize the cultivation, distribution, possession and use of cannabis in Native American country.
The provision was attached to the base of the Department of the Interior’s fiscal year 2023 appropriations legislation and needs no further amendments. However, the cannabis protection provision states that there are two exceptions: first, federal funds can be used to interfere with cannabis activities in tribal territories that are located in states without legal markets, and second Native American tribes must make sure that their tribal marijuana laws prevent access by minors, keep cannabis from being used in organized criminal activity or the trafficking of other illicit drugs, and ensure there is no cannabis on federal public lands.
In the past, provisions that had been attached to appropriations bills for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) that advanced past the House banned the use of federal funds in enforcing cannabis prohibition on tribal territories, but they did not have any nuance regarding different state laws nor did they offer any policy guidelines. Furthermore, none of these measures were codified into law even after advancing past the House.
Speaking at a press conference, Rep. Dave Joyce stated that it is unequivocally wrong to enforce federal cannabis laws on tribal land, especially in cases where the tribe and home state have both legalized marijuana. Joyce is a Congressional Cannabis Caucus cochair and a ranking member on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies.
He said misguided efforts to enforce federal cannabis policies on tribal land have left Native American tribes unsure if the federal government will continue enforcing federal cannabis policies on Native American reservations.
These tribes were sovereign nations, he noted, adding that they had the right to pass and enforce their own legislation.
Granting these protections removes a lot of concerns that people have about the risk of being penalized by the federal government for an action that is legal within the jurisdiction where they live. As these clarifications are codified, companies such as Advanced Container Technologies Inc. (OTC: ACTX) could see their sales of cultivation equipment jump.
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