Native Americans Left Out of California’s Lucrative Cannabis Market
As far as California is concerned, Native American tribes can do whatever they want with cannabis on their reservations -- which are considered sovereign nations. They cannot, however, operate in the far more lucrative California cannabis market because they can’t sell their product beyond tribal land. They have been trying to change that. But the state insists that its regulators must have control over any operations on reservation land, something tribal officials say is unacceptable. Leaders aren’t willing to waive their nation’s hard-won rights to self-governance, and arguably their identity, by agreeing to be treated like businesses instead of governments. The ability to regulate themselves in all matters is a basic tenet of their sovereign status as independent nations. To date, none of the three agencies that license cannabis businesses in California have issued permits for projects in Indian Country. California is home to 109 federally recognized Native American tribes, with the most populous in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Bernardino, Orange, and Riverside counties. For context -- two centuries of slaughter, land theft, and discrimination have left California’s Native Americans with lower median incomes and education levels coupled with higher rates of poverty and unemployment than the general population. The Washington Post reports that the tribes are hoping that Governor Gavin Newsom (D), who supported legalized marijuana as a tool for social justice, will be open to the idea of working with them to create a way to allow their entry into the lucrative marketplace. Letters have been sent, but the Governor’s office has not indicated a willingness to talk. More here.