Native American Weed? Not So Fast


Federal agencies are threatening tribal pot businesses in Nevada behind closed doors. The state legalized recreational cannabis, so why are Native American communities getting burnt?


Several weeks ago, Thom, along with other tribal members and their supporters, met with a law enforcement official from the Department of Interior (DOI)’s Bureau of Indian Affairs regarding the Nevada tribes’ medical marijuana programs. Thom says the official told her he “would enforce federal law on Nevada tribes, because the US Attorney General would provide the necessary warrants.” In other words, if a tribe were to open a grow op or dispensary, a federal raid could be just around the corner.

“‘Don’t do it,’ he said,” recalls Thom.

Although marijuana is legal in the state of Nevada, it remains illegal at the federal level. Jeff Sessions, the US Attorney General and head of the Department of Justice (DOJ), dislikes pot. Last year, he infamously quipped that, “Good people don’t smoke marijuana,” and just this month, he told a press conference, “I’ve never felt that we should legalize marijuana.” Not even a year into his tenure, Sessions has already shut down several grey-market pot operations (for example, cannabis is legal to possess in Maine, but it’s not available for sale quite yet).

Landmark Trade Secrets Case to Test Federal Intellectual Property Protections for the Cannabis Industry

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Landmark Trade Secrets Case to Test Federal Intellectual Property Protections for the Cannabis Industry



Last week, over the course of three separate days, the Marijuana Legalization Implementation Committee met to hear testimony on and revise the draft bill released last month.

On Thursday, September 28, the committee voted on the bill, passing 13-2 in favor, to send it to the full legislature in a special session later this month. Some changes to the bill include:

  • Updated tax language: 10 percent sales tax and 10 percent excise tax on retail products and disbursements of those taxes to municipalities that host marijuana businesses
  • Increased residency requirements: license applicants must have lived in Maine for two years before applying
  • The committee removed internet sales and drive-through provisions; it also removed the option for medical dispensaries to convert to for-profit businesses

The committee has announced a hearing next Thursday to review the adopted bill. Details will be available on the MLIC page.

While the bill has cleared the first hurdle some committee members fear, even if the legislature passes the bill, that it faces tough opposition from the LePage Administration. The bill will need to pass through both chambers and survive a potential veto from the Governor. Should the bill become law, there is further uncertainty that the Administration will choose to implement it.


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