16 August 2016

We’ve reported on this ongoing case a few times now of the “consultants” who brought in marijuana seeds from the Netherlands to start a growing program for the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe.

Subsequently authorities charged both with  “conspiracy to possess, possession and attempt to possess more than 10 pounds of marijuana.”

Here’s what the Cannabist is reporting…

FLANDREAU, S.D. — Two consultants who helped a Native American tribe plan the nation’s first marijuana resort entered opposing pleas Monday to drug offenses, with the attorney for the man who pleaded not guilty arguing outside of court that South Dakota’s top prosecutor is proceeding under a “legal fiction.”

Jonathan Hunt, who oversaw the first crop for the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe, pleaded guilty to a drug conspiracy count in the city of Flandreau, which is adjacent to the tribe’s reservation where the ambitious “adult playground” never took off. Eric Hagen, the CEO of the Colorado-based consulting firm Monarch America, pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to possess, possession and attempt to possess more than 10 pounds of marijuana.

The charges were filed Aug. 3, eight months after tribal leaders destroyed the marijuana crop, fearing a federal raid, and walking away from the headline-grabbing scheme that they estimated would have yielded up to $2 million in monthly profits.

Cannabis consultant Jonathan Hunt checks marijuana seedlings growing at a facility on the Flandreau Santee Sioux Reservation in Flandreau, S.D., on Sept. 24, 2015. (Jay Pickthorn, Associated Press file)

Hagen’s attorney, Mike Butler, spoke publicly for the first time Monday, blasting Attorney General Marty Jackley for charging his client because he “couldn’t go after the tribe.”

“I am yet unaware of any evidence, any evidence, that my client possessed even a gram of marijuana,” Butler said outside the courtroom. “…The marijuana belonged to the Santee Sioux Tribe. They paid for it. They had legal ownership of it at all times. Mr. Hagen never had possession, actual or constructive, of the marijuana alleged in this case.”

Butler said he will call tribal officials to testify in court.

Hunt and his attorney declined to comment to The Associated Press on Monday. Hunt is to be sentenced Dec. 19, though the date could change depending on Hagen’s case. The prosecution recommended probation.

The tribe’s attorney, Seth Pearman, said tribal officials are not commenting on the cases at the moment. No tribal officials are charged.