While Indigenous hemp and marijuana operators see opportunity within the space, bureaucratic, investing and scalability hurdles persist.
From Benzinga by Jelena Martinovic October 10, 2022
During a hearing earlier this year before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee, Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) pointed out that Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) funds are being used to interfere in the Tribal marijuana program and should actually be allocated to combat violent crimes and cases of missing Indigenous people.
Now two prominent fellow Republicans, Reps. Dave Joyce (R-OH) and Brian Mast (R-FLA), who co-chair the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, are seeking administrative action from President Biden in relation to cannabis policy for the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), reported Marijuana Moment.
The move follows Biden‘s recent announcement that he would pardon all federal offenses of simple marijuana possession, a move expected to impact 6,500 incarcerated people.
“We request that you use your authority to keep the Bureau of Indian Affairs and related agencies, such as the National Indian Gaining Commission, focused on more pressing public safety and justice needs, including Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and human trafficking, and require such agencies to respect Tribal sovereignty moving forward,” the GOP lawmakers wrote in a letter to the president on Friday.
Joyce and Mast said that enforcing federal cannabis laws on Tribal land is not just “wrong” but also “discriminatory.”
Feds Sued For Raiding Native American’s Legal Medical Marijuana Crop
The two Reps. shed light on the case of Charles Farden, a member of the Pueblo of Picuris, which is one of the 23 tribal nations in the state. Farden’s garden was raided by federal BIA agents, resulting in nine destroyed plants he’d legally cultivated for personal therapeutic use under state and tribal law.
Farden is filing a lawsuit against the federal government, which could bring him $3.5 million in damages.
“By unlawfully cutting down and burning Mr. Farden’s medical cannabis plants,” the document states, “federal law enforcement officers committed an act that is tantamount to these same officers unlawfully entering into Mr. Farden’s home, without a warrant, going into his medicine cabinet and flushing his prescription diabetes medication down the toilet.”
Meanwhile, Joyce earlier addressed the issue by securing a language in the fiscal year 2023 appropriations bill to protect the rights of Native American tribes, which are impacted by federal cannabis laws.
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