What is Giving Compass?
We connect donors to learning resources and ways to support community-led solutions. Learn more about us.
At first, it seemed likely that Native Americans would benefit from the legal marijuana industry. According to the 2012 Census, Native American farmers are responsible for over 50 millions acres of land and sold over $1 billion in agricultural business. Because they are located within sovereign borders, they’re not subject to the same income tax laws that U.S. citizens are subject to. Indian reservations have to comply by federal laws, but not by state ones. And a 2014 memo from the Department of Justice briefly permitted tribal nations to regulate the production and sales of cannabis products within their sovereign borders.
The conditions stipulated in that memo have since been revoked by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and Native cannabis entrepreneurs have found themselves with a unique challenge. Although many states, like Colorado and California, have passed laws for recreational marijuana use, federal regulations still outlaw it. Which is trouble, because it’s the latter that tribes must comply with, says Anthony Rivera. He’s the CEO of CannaNative, a company that is helping Native American tribes develop economic and regulatory policies for localized cannabis industries.
“To have states legalize the cannabis and marijuana in different states causes a complex situation for us because we do not necessarily comply with state laws,” says Rivera. “And as the federal government refuses to get up to speed with the rest of the country, we have to deal with the federal side.”
Read the full article about Native Americans fighting for rights in the legal cannabis industry by Tasbeeh Herwees at GOOD Magazine.