There may be no better friend to Native Americans than President Barack Obama, who has gone out of his way to foster economic development by extending gaming and energy development rights, among many other benefits, to the impoverished community. But in an odd twist, his administration’s latest entreaty—to allow marijuana crops and sales on reservations—is being viewed by some tribes as not very friendly at all.
“We actually have no idea what’s going on here,” said Troy Eid, a Denver attorney and chairman of the Indian Law and Order Commission, which advises Obama and Congress on tribal criminal justice issues. “What we do know is that, for unknown reasons, there has been no consultation between the administration and tribes as to what they want to do. It’s a very unusual gap in how this president has approached things.”
The Justice Department said last week that it will treat tribal lands—and there are 300 in 30 states—as it does the four states that have legalized marijuana. In its memo, the department said it was responding to the request of “some tribes” that had asked for guidance.
“No idea,” responded Jacqueline Pata, executive director of the National Congress of American Indians, when asked which tribes made the request.
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