New Congressional spending bill gives marijuana protection to federal tribes

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Federal lawmakers are giving tribes more access to legal marijuana, but with caveats

Indian tribes now appear to have advocacy from some Congressional leaders seeking to avoid facing federal prosecution simply because they have legalized marijuana within their territory. Still, it should be noted that there are some exceptions to these proposed protections, including a spending bill released by a House Appropriations subcommittee earlier this week.

For some time now, a number of fast-track bills have been introduced with amendments that seek to grant safeguards to tribes that have some sort of relationship with the plant. However, the recently introduced new section comes with some never-before-seen contingencies. Among the most notable is a policy that states that the protections do not apply to tribes in states that have not legalized marijuana.

Several cannabis-related proposals have been included in various agencies’ spending bill submissions over the past week and the tribal cannabis language appears to be one of the most prominent proposals. The news comes sometime after a Senate committee held a listening session late last week aimed at exploring the issues of cannabis for Native Americans. Important issues such as agreements with state governments, tribal sovereignty with the marijuana space and taxation were addressed during the meeting.

In general, the new House cannabis provision indicates that general funds will not be appropriated to Interior agencies, the Department of Justice, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, or the Bureau of Justice Services. The idea is to be able to use these funds to “enforce federal laws criminalizing the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of marijuana against any person engaged in the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of marijuana in Indian Territory,” where such activity is authorized.