Pubdate: Sun, 08 Nov 2015
Source: Argus Leader (Sioux Falls, SD)
Copyright: 2015 Argus Leader
Authors: Mark Walker and Katie Nelson


Tribe Destroying Crop; Hopes to Work Out Solution With U.S. 
Department of Justice

The Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe is temporarily suspending its 
marijuana cultivation and distributing facilities and is destroying 
its existing crop as leaders seek clarification on regulations from 
the federal government, according to the tribe's lawyer.

Seth Pearman said the suspension is pivotal to the continued success 
of the marijuana venture and that tribal leadership is confident that 
after getting clarification from the U.S. Department of Justice, "it 
will be better suited to succeed."

"The tribe will continue to consult with the federal and state 
government and hopes to be granted parity with states that have 
legalized marijuana," Pearman said in the news release.

Pearman said despite suspending the current plan, the tribe intends 
to be a participant in the marijuana industry.

South Dakota attorney general Marty Jackley called the about-face a 
"positive" choice.

"The decision by the Flandreau Tribe to not move forward at this time 
with marijuana growth in South Dakota is positive and is in the best 
interest of both tribal and non-tribal members," Jackley said. "I 
understand that this has been a divisive matter and that this 
decision by tribal authorities has not been easy."

Jackley said that he and tribal government officials have had 
opportunities to sit down and discuss the marijuana operation 
throughout the process.

"We haven't always agreed, but we've had good, positive discussions," 
he said. "I will do whatever I can as South Dakota's Attorney General 
to assist Flandreau in the decision and as I have done throughout 
this process, make myself available to tribal leadership for further 

Jackley told the Associated Press that he was informed of the tribe's 
decision Saturday. He plans to meet with tribal officials Monday or Tuesday.

Jonathan Hunt, vice present of Monarch America, a Denver-based 
marijuana consulting firm hired by the tribe, told the Associated 
Press that a reported fire Saturday was caused by wood and not 
marijuana. He declined further comment.

Rep. Matthew Wollmann, R-Flandreau, had the opportunity to tour the 
tribe's marijuana facilities in October. Wollmann said he was 
surprised by the decision to forego the venture for now.

"They've invested a lot of money into the facilities," he said.

Wollmann added that despite the delay, the fact that marijuana is 
still illegal across South Dakota could continue to create tension 
between the tribe and the rest of the state.

"Quite frankly, nine out of 10 people that I've spoken to about the 
issue were not in favor of it," he said. "I think they had a lot more 
pushback than they expected. ... Maybe they're waiting for a better 

The U.S Justice Department in December 2014 moved to allow Native 
American tribes authority to legalize marijuana on tribal land.

The Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe became the first South Dakota tribe 
to move forward with making marijuana legal.

The tribe's executive committee voted June 11 to make the sale and 
use of marijuana legal on its reservation in Moody County about 45 
miles north of Sioux Falls. The facility had been slated to open at 
the end of the year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report
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