Red Lake Tribal Council to research feasibility of marijuana


red_lake_tribal_council_to_reseach_feasibility_of_marijuana.jpgRED LAKE, Minn. – Although the

subject was not on the printed agenda for the Red Lake Tribal Council

at the regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Jan. 13, recent acts by

the federal government concerning Indian tribes, hemp and marijuana

prompted several tribes to explore the feasibility of growing medical

marijuana and industrial hemp.

Red Lake Chairman Darrell G. Seki,

Sr., added the agenda item shortly after the call to order. He said

he felt the federal ruling should at least be discussed. Seki cited

several tribes that are looking deeper into the issue and mentioned

fewer yet that were actually taking action.

Immediately, Red Lake citizen and

Gardening Tech at Red Lake Traditional Foods David Manuel asked to

address those assembled and spoke of the economic advantages to

getting involved with at least industrial hemp and possibly medical

marijuana. “Give me one of those three green houses near the

elementary school for a year and I’ll give you five million dollars,"

Manuel said. He offered no plan nor statistics for that claim.

Nearly everyone on the 11-member

tribal council weighed in, including several chiefs and Red Lake

members seated in the audience. Discussion ran the gamut from

favorable to cautionary for both industrial hemp and medicinal


Council member Roman Stately said

toward the end of the discussion, that he "knew very little

about either hemp or marijuana. We need a feasibility study. Lets

learn about it.” Several council members and citizens agreed that

they just were unfamiliar with the issue and that the tribe should

explore the matter from a legal, economic and other issues

surrounding the federal memo.

It was then moved and seconded, then

passed unanimously to direct Red Lake Economic Development and Legal

Departments to conduct a feasibility study and fact-finding mission

on the issue and report back to council at an unspecified time.

Seki emphasized that whatever the

outcome, no resolutions or tribal laws will be enacted without

consultation with the membership both in informational meetings and

eventually in a referendum … a vote of the entire nation. “Whatever

we do, it will be done very carefully,” he said.

Seki, who holds informational and

brainstorming sessions in each of the four Red Lake communities from

time to time, said that for the next series of community meetings

will be conducted over a two week period in February, that he will

add the issue to the agenda and encouraged all Red Lake members to

participate in that and all issues of concern to the tribe.


In early December, the federal

government released a three-page memo announcing that the federal

government will not prosecute Native Americans tribes for growing and

selling marijuana on tribal lands, even in states where the drug is

illegal. Most tribal leaders have no concerns about cannabis and

expressed interest in the business opportunity.

There appears to be concern that the

vagueness of the language will open the door to unnecessary

prosecution – especially since in one part of the memo, the U.S.

Department of Justice says that the states attorneys general will

still have the authority to stop criminal activity on tribal land.

Red Lake, however as a ‘clouded reservation’ is is exempt from state

law and answers only to Congress.

According to the memo, originally

dated and sent on Oct. 28, U.S. attorneys will prosecute marijuana

sales on tribal land according to the same guidelines they have

adopted for the states – focusing on keeping marijuana out of the

hands of organized crime, away from children and not diverting it to

states where marijuana remains illegal.

Red Lake Chairman’s Upcoming Community


Little Rock: Wednesday, Feb. 11, 6 p.m.

Red Lake: Wednesday, Feb. 18, 6 p.m.

Redby: Monday, Feb. 23, 6 p.m.

Ponemah: Wednesday, Feb. 25, 6 p.m.

PHOTO: The Red Lake Tribal

Council (Photo by Michael Meuers).