The Montana-based Crow Tribe last week approved an ordinance to oversee its own cannabis cultivation and sales, and allow the tribe to benefit from the proceeds, the Associated Press reports. The ordinance – approved on April 16 – will allow the tribal government to sell cannabis products and sets the sales tax at 7%.
Crow Tribe Chairman Frank White Clay told the Billings Gazette that while “coal was the name of the game for the tribe for a while,” the tribe is diversifying its economy “for good business.”
“We’ve had medical marijuana for quite some time, and the Crow Tribe is not isolated … The reservation itself is more accepting (of it), and we’re just moving with the times.” – Clay to the AP
Following the legalization of medical cannabis in Montana, the state’s tribes have taken independent approaches to the reforms. In 2018, the Blackfeet Nation decriminalized possession of medical cannabis, while the Fort Peck Tribal Council completely banned cannabis possession of any kind by its members.
Thor Hoyte, legal counsel for the Crow Tribe indicated that the tribe would run its cannabis program parallel to the state, despite its sovereignty and not needing state permission.
“Not only are we paralleling the state in terms of carry and transaction limits. The Crow Tribe is going further … in terms of the labeling, testing and that sort of rubric,” he said to the Independent Record.
Hoyt also noted that the industry would be a potential jobs driver in the Nation, which has a 75% unemployment rate.
During the 2020 General Election, Montana voters approved legalization 58%-42%; however, the reforms have been met with resistance by lawmakers who in January rejected a $1.35 million budget proposal for implementing the program. In February, Republican Rep. Bill Mercer introduced legislation to delay adult-use cannabis sales in the state until 2023, citing a “massive expansion of government” in just nine months.
Anti-legalization group Wrong for Montana has filed a lawsuit challenging the measure claiming the financial allocation provisions in the measure violate the state constitution.
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