Last year the U.S. Department of Justice instructed prosecutors to leave tribes alone if they decide to grow and sell marijuana on reservation lands. So far, none of the sovereign nations have attempted. Many have come out against the idea. The Menominee Tribe of Wisconsin, in a tweet from tribal legislator and former chairman Craig Corn, opened the door Friday saying, “Now we embark on a new economic endeavor, it is time to progress forward. We are gonna fast track a effort to legalize marijuana.”
The state of Wisconsin bans the growing, selling, and possession of this agricultural product, but the federally recognized tribe may not need to heed the laws of the land surrounding their 353,894 square mile reservation – or they may – it is a legal issue that needs a lot of wrangling and unraveling before anyone can say for sure. But it seems, that under the current administration in Washington D.C., that at least the issue of federal sovereignty has been determined.
The Menominee are no strangers to legal issues. The tribe’s recognition was terminated in the 1950’s due to federal policy of the times. In 1968 they brought a case before the United States Supreme Court, in Menominee Tribe v. United States to restore their aboriginal hunting and fishing rights – and won. Five years later the tribe was recognized by an act of congress and they re-established their reservation in 1975. The Nation operates under a written constitution, which would have to be ratified in order to legalize marijuana.