Should Tribes Legalize Marijuana?

Authors: Amber Seachord and Barbara Leigh Smith

Disciplines: Business and Management, Economics, Health, Native American Studies, Political Science and Public Administration, Psychology, Social Work and Sociology

Themes: Community Development, Economic Development, Family and Youth, Federal and State Relations and Policy, Health and Wellness, Human Services, Intergovernmental Relations, Leadership, Self Determination and Self Governance, Treaty Rights and Sovereignty

Tribes: Alaska Native, Apache, Chipewyan Cree, Chistochina, Coast Salish People of Puget Sound, Confederated Tribes of Salish Kootenai, Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Confederated Tribes of Yakama, Cree, Gila River, Havasupai, Hoh River, Hopi, Inuit, Inupiaq, Iroquois, Lac de Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Lower Elwha Klallam, Lummi, Makah, Mentasta, Mescalero Apache, Morongo, Mount Sanford Tribal Consortium, Mowachaht/Muchalaht, Navajo, Nez Perce, Nisqually, Ojibwe, Onondaga, Osage, Papiez Confederated Tribes of Yakama, Quileute, Quinault, Santa Clara Pueblo, Seminole, Skokomish, Squaxin Island, Swinomish, Tulalip, Wampanoag, White Earth Nation

Marijuana legalization has been gaining momentum in the United States in recent years, yet heated controversies continue to surround the issue. The central focus of this case is on the question of whether tribes should legalize marijuana.  The case begins by briefly describing the history of marijuana, what is known about its impact, and the changing policies at the state and federal level. It then discusses the various ways tribes are exploring the “opportunity,” the ways they might become involved in the marijuana business, and the pros and cons of various forms of tribal involvement.