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Tribes left behind by America’s marijuana laws

In a high mountain valley near Taos, N.M., the 300-person Picuris Pueblo tribe can farm whatever they want — except for one lucrative crop that is legal to grow everywhere else in the state: marijuana.

The Picuris are a poor tribe in the nation’s third-poorest state: The average household income in New Mexico is just under $50,000, and 68 percent of the tribe’s households are below that line. The main industries of the Picuris are farming and bison ranching.

A vibrant marijuana program could be an economic boon for the tribe.

It’s worked for others. The federal government has tacitly allowed states to legalize, regulate and tax medical and recreational cannabis programs since the late 1990s. But a lack of federal guidance for tribal marijuana programs has thwarted the Picuris’ plans to get a piece of New Mexico’s $200 million-plus marijuana market.

In November 2017, Bureau of Indian Affairs drug officers entered Picuris land and pulled up the approximately 30 medical marijuana plants the tribe was growing, according to Picuris Gov. Craig Quanchello. At present day prices, that marijuana flower would be worth at least $100,000. Then in December 2021, three BIA officers entered Picuris land again — according to a letter from the tribe detailing the raid — pulling up nine medical plants grown at the home of a medical card owner. The BIA and Department of Justice declined to comment for this story. [Read more at Politico]

This Post Has One Comment
  1. Thank you for commenting on this. The organized cannabis advocates have consistently left out Native Americans in social equity programs. This is despite data clearly indicating significant harm from the war on drugs.

    I do not think it is an accident.

    A good example is the state of Massachusetts. The legislation passed was written by the industry for the industry and to get votes. When individual communities (Cambridge and Boston excellent examples) have the opportunity to correct this, they have aggressive opposition from active proponents of social equity programs. The argument is that the data do not support that there is harm to Native Americans in any manner. While the statement is true, it is not fact. The research always presented only looks at Black and Hispanic. The social equity advocates that oppose inclusion of Native Americans do not offer the research that included Native Americans.

    And sadly one of the biggest harms in burying this issue is the ongoing trafficking of Native American women onto illegal marijuana grows and little information being distributed about the issue.

    Dr. Valenti

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