Tribes Probe Pot Parlors

The Santee Sioux in South Dakota plans a New Year’s Eve opening of a marijuana dispensary and smoking lounge, but faces opposition from the state’s governor. In New York, the Seneca Nation Council approved going forward with a November vote in which members will decide whether or not to explore opening a medical marijuana operation.

Having their own jurisdictional power as sovereign nations, some tribes are considering allowing potential marijuana parlors to operate on their lands.

The Santee Sioux, which owns the Ohiya Casino & Resort in South Dakota, are converting part of an old bowling alley into a smoking lounge, in which patrons can buy and smoke marijuana, and from which the tribe estimates it could generate $2 million per month in local economic activity, Courthouse News Service reported.

The tribe plans a New Year’s Eve opening of the smoking lounge, which is located next to a warehouse owned by the Santee Sioux in Flandreau and would include a marijuana dispensary, performance stage, dance floor, restaurant, bar, and smoking lounge.

South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard says the planned pot parlor violates federal law, but the state has no jurisdiction over tribal properties and entities.

The Santee Sioux in June legalized marijuana possession and use on the reservation, but South Dakota outlaws its possession or use by anyone off tribal lands and by non-tribal members on tribal lands.

The Seneca Nation of Indians in New York also is dealing with a potential marijuana operation, but one that its member will vote on November 3.

A referendum before the tribe would explore creation of law enabling the manufacture, distribution, and consumption of medical marijuana.

The Seneca Nation Council approved advancing the referendum, which is to be decided along with the tribe’s already scheduled judicial elections in November.

“Any potential interest in pursuing a medical cannabis venture on our Nation’s territory must first be rooted in thoughtful regulation and determined by the will of the Seneca people,” Seneca Nation President Maurice John Sr. said in a statement.

“There are many economic, social, health, and regulatory factors to consider moving forward. But first, we must hear the voice of our people.”