Tribal sovereignty and Native American weed.
November 8, 2015 1:27 PM   Subscribe

About a year ago, the U.S. Justice department issued a memorandum allowing tribal nations to grow and sell marijuana. In June of this year, The Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe, located in South Dakota, announced plans to open a marijuana resort (See also). The tribe signed a contract with Colorado-based Monarch America to help them with the venture. A member of the tribe is creating a documentary of the process. The resort was slated to open on December 31, 2015. An extensive grow operation was underway to provide more than thirty strains of marijuana in a tightly-controlled environment. As of yesterday, all growth operations have ceased, the plants may have been destroyed, and the future of the Tribe's plans is uncertain.
posted by yesster (22 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
The linked article is extremely vague on what prompted this action on the part of the Flandreau Santee Sioux. Whatever it was, I hope they can sort it out and get back into operation.

So much bullshit over such a goddamn non-issue.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 2:03 PM on November 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


Why on earth would anyone travel to a remote corner of South Dakota to smoke pot legally, at a special resort, when they can just as easily do so in Denver, Portland, or Seattle?
posted by kickingtheground at 2:46 PM on November 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Maybe they don't want to go to Denver, Portland or Seattle? Why on earth would someone travel to some remote corner to stay in a lodge when they could do to Denver, Portland or Seattle and stay in a hotel?
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 2:51 PM on November 8, 2015 [10 favorites]


Why on earth would anyone travel to a remote corner of South Dakota . . .

There's several million people who would find the journey to Flandreau to be cheaper and/or faster than to any of the destinations you mentioned.
posted by yesster at 2:53 PM on November 8, 2015 [24 favorites]


The reverse is happening in this region, where tribes are keeping weed illegal despite state legalization.
posted by Dip Flash at 2:56 PM on November 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Why on earth would anyone travel to a remote corner of South Dakota...

"Remote", ha. Flandreau is about 45 minutes out of Sioux Falls, the most populous city in SD, which contains about 30% of all people in SD, and a regional airport with flights to basically any major city in the US. It's actually a very good place for this sort of thing, far enough out of the city that the suburbanites won't whine too much, but close enough to interstates and the airport for tourism. It's a hell of a lot closer to the vast majority of the country than any of the western states you mention as well.
posted by neonrev at 3:15 PM on November 8, 2015 [15 favorites]


Why on earth would anyone travel to a remote corner of South Dakota to smoke pot legally, at a special resort, when they can just as easily do so in Denver, Portland, or Seattle?

If I smoked weed I would go there just to support a tribal enterprise over some white dude in a Portland headshop.
posted by poffin boffin at 3:26 PM on November 8, 2015 [26 favorites]


The linked article is extremely vague on what prompted this action on the part of the Flandreau Santee Sioux.

Yea, it conspicuously does NOT give a reason. What was the issue if Justice had signed off? Was the South Dakota DA going to raid them? You don't give up that much product and sunk investment without a good reason.
posted by T.D. Strange at 3:56 PM on November 8, 2015 [3 favorites]




The linked article is extremely vague on what prompted this action

it seems to be a crazy zero-tolerance law in s dakota which says it's a class 1 misdemeanour to have traces of THC in the blood. source (linked from final link above).

(and so anyone leaving the resort could end up in jail, i assume)
posted by andrewcooke at 4:24 PM on November 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


If I smoked weed I would go there just to support a tribal enterprise over some white dude in a Portland headshop.

Would not be surprised to learn that Cartel money and weed are behind both operations.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 8:11 PM on November 8, 2015


Would not be surprised to learn that Cartel money and weed are behind both operations.


Really? Because I would. While I assume a ton of the now legal growers were once growing illegally, I've never heard any real accusation that this was occurring. There is certainly a ton of folks that would be happy to attack the credibility of any of the legal operations that exist now.

If anything, I can only imagine 'the Cartel' to be against legalization efforts.

Do you have anything to base that on, at all?
posted by el io at 8:25 PM on November 8, 2015 [13 favorites]


The article linked by RobotVoodooPowder went live about the same time I created the post on the Blue.

The entire process by the tribe has been completely transparent to federal, state, and local law enforcement. This is as far from "cartel" operations as you can get. The seeds and equipment were purchased. The grow operation has been very well documented. There is no way that the tribe would risk anything on supporting any kind of drug trade that did not go through their own grow op.

[A sticking point, which doesn't rise to the top of most media coverage, is the legal question over non-Native access. The DOJ memorandum allows tribes to grow and sell, but is unclear regarding sales to non-tribal members. The Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe was planning on conducting very controlled, on-Reservation, sales to non-tribal members, with controls in place to ensure that the marijuana did not leave Reservation property. Part of the whole "resort" approach includes taking advantage of their existing casino, restaurant, and hotel assets. The soft message is "to play here, you gotta stay here."]
posted by yesster at 9:15 PM on November 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


it seems to be a crazy zero-tolerance law in s dakota which says it's a class 1 misdemeanor to have traces of THC in the blood. source (linked from final link above).

(and so anyone leaving the resort could end up in jail, i assume)


They are incorrect. It is a felony Citing SD code §22-42-5.1.

"Unauthorized ingestion of controlled drug or substance as felony. No person may knowingly ingest a controlled drug or substance or have a controlled drug or substance in an altered state in the body unless the substance was obtained directly or pursuant to a valid prescription or order from a practitioner, while acting in the course of the practitioner's professional practice or except as otherwise authorized by chapter 34-20B. A violation of this section for a substance in Schedules I or II is a Class 5 felony. A violation of this section for a substance in Schedules III or IV is a Class 6 felony."


Technically, taking anything at all with the intent to get high is illegal in SD.

"Ingesting substance, except alcoholic beverages, for the purpose of becoming intoxicated as misdemeanor--Venue for violation. Any person who intentionally ingests, inhales, or otherwise takes into the body any substance, except alcoholic beverages as defined in § 35-1-1, for purposes of becoming intoxicated, unless such substance is prescribed by a practitioner of the medical arts lawfully practicing within the scope of the practitioner's practice, is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. The venue for a violation of this section exists in either the jurisdiction in which the substance was ingested, inhaled, or otherwise taken into the body or the jurisdiction in which the substance was detected in the body of the accused."


They don't ever (to my knowledge) hit people with the felony charges (unless you are selling, then you get the full hit they can give you), that's a lot of jail time + a longer trial and even SD is sane about some things. That's mostly there to scare people into immediately admitting any crime involving drugs at all. They prefer to leave you out of jail so they can fine you over and over again instead. South Dakota is insane about weed law. In-sane.

Also, yeah. Don't bring the cartels into this mess without a scrap of evidence they are (and there isn't.). The entire point is that they are GROWING IT ON SITE, using the money they have from the casino. They don't need cartel money.
posted by neonrev at 9:19 PM on November 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


(The second law is the one they are talking about, but it's the controlled substances part that makes the first one technically primary in the case of marijuana. They just use the second one more often. Cheaper and quicker is all.)
posted by neonrev at 9:21 PM on November 8, 2015


I hope they decided this because they realize marijuana will be legal for most of the US within 10 years, making the resort a poor investment.
posted by miyabo at 9:34 PM on November 8, 2015


Why on earth would anyone travel to a remote corner of South Dakota to smoke pot legally, at a special resort, when they can just as easily do so in Denver, Portland, or Seattle?

At least here in Denver, there's no where for adults to publicly meet up and partake in smoking pot. Thus, the idea of a resort you may go to, for a shared experience that's a little more fancy than, "Steve's House". I don't believe you can have a private club either. (or it's murky waters)


I mean, don't get me wrong, odds are that they're coming, just not here/now.

(although maybe I'm wrong)
posted by alex_skazat at 9:34 PM on November 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


I hope they decided this because they realize marijuana will be legal for most of the US within 10 years, making the resort a poor investment.

I get the impression they hope to drive business to their casino... Also that SD may be among the last states to legalize (unless/until federal level legalization occurs, but even then they'll probably give states discretion as they do with booze).

It seems like a good opportunity for a lot of tribes to engage in this behavior, and seems like a better legal ground than the states have. I wish tribes all the luck in these endeavors.
posted by el io at 9:40 PM on November 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


I guess there would be some value in having a place dedicated specifically to pot so that people who are in social positions where it would be socially unacceptable to ever get high (teachers? doctors? moms?) would have a place they could travel do it. That's pretty much what Vegas is for and it works for them.
posted by miyabo at 9:43 PM on November 8, 2015


Would not be surprised to learn that Cartel money and weed are behind both operations.

Really? Because I find it slightly patronizing to suggest that a tribal government couldn't have raised funds for this themselves or found entities interested in investing with them. They are legitimate government entities with elected and appointed officials, just like any other government interested in pursuing legalization.

Anyhow, this link about a recent raid on the Menominee Nation gives some more background on this whole issue. I don't believe that the officials in Flandreau are backing out because they don't think it'll be lucrative. It's still early in the game and the Midwest has been pretty slow on any legalization efforts. Eastern SD is not a bad location at all for a resort destination, given this.
posted by giizhik at 9:52 PM on November 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


I hope they decided this because they realize marijuana will be legal for most of the US within 10 years, making the resort a poor investment.
A resort they can fold into their casino operation. The grow facility will be ideally situated to provide pot to legal businesses when it does become legal. And ten years is a long time to make money that could help provide a dividend to tribal card holders and seed money for other enterprises.
posted by Foam Pants at 11:21 PM on November 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


They already have a giant room filled with flashing lights, fun music, and delightful sounds in the form of a casino, creating a way to let people get high and go experience that seems like a great idea.

I think it also makes sense that this would be tried first by a tribe that is a little more remote than others. If it's going to be successful (or at least run without getting shut down), it's more likely to happen out in the middle of nowhere where they won't bother any body or even really effect anything. If a couple of these places open and start running without any major issues, it makes it easier for other tribes to try in more controversial areas.

I hope they're able to get things figured out so they can give this a try. I live pretty close to a different Lakota reservation and I'd love it if they did something similar.
posted by VTX at 7:57 AM on November 9, 2015


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