Across the United States, there are 574 federally recognized Native American Tribes and more than 300 sovereign Indian reservations.
Unfortunately, there are huge problems facing tribal communities, from an epidemic of missing and murdered women (MMIW) and sex trafficking to high poverty rates. The last thing that they need to worry about is the federal government violating their sovereignty in order to enforce cannabis laws.
Based on centuries of agreements and treaties, Native Americans have the right to make their own laws within reservations, and many have chosen to legalize cannabis - just as 19 states have. In those 19 states, the federal government does not enforce federal cannabis laws that conflict with state policy, but the same cannot be said for reservations.
Just last year, law enforcement officers with the Bureau of Indian Affairs raided a home on the land of the Picuris Pueblo in New Mexico in order to seize a man’s supply of medical cannabis, even though the Pueblo had legalized its use.
I’m calling on the Biden Administration to get its priorities in order. Instead of using resources to enforce federal cannabis laws on Tribal land, it should be focused on partnering with Tribes to address the major public safety problems, including the thousands of cases of MMIW.
As a co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, I believe that cannabis policy should be determined by states and Tribes and that Washington should not be imposing one-size-fits-all solutions on the rest of the country, especially when there are more pressing issues to address.
Here's the letter Congressman Joyce and I wrote to President Biden: