The tide is turning in the War on Drugs, slowly but surely. Some states have legalized marijuana outright, others are allowing medicinal usage, although just over half still criminalize its use in any form. The states are battling one another over the issue, with some wanting to return to the days of failed prohibitionist policies with disastrous results while others are seeking better alternatives to controlling personal choices. But there are other jurisdictions within the United States that often get overlooked when discussing policy: Native American Reservations.
Reservations have the ability to self-govern with little interference from the federal government, with some limitations. It’s why the only casinos you’ll find in large government states are often within the boundaries of the reservation rather than out where people can play blackjack and poker in peace. At least one reservation is testing the waters to see if that sovereignty extends to legalizing marijuana.
The Santee tribe of Eastern South Dakota have a wildly successful casino, hotel, and buffalo ranch. They are now adding a marijuana resort with a nightclub where adults can come and have a good time. Basically, it’ll be like the Las Vegas of marijuana. They are planning on opening the new venture at a New Year’s Eve party, according to a September 29 Cannabist report.
In addition to the pot lounge and nightclub, they want to have a large outdoor music venue. Tribal leaders believe that the project could make them some $2 million per month in profits and set a precedent for the other 300 or so reservations around the nation to have a new revenue stream. Not only that, but they are planning on growing their own weed, which will cut down on a ton of operational costs.
Officially, the Justice Department said last year that they would stay out of the way of reservations who wanted to legalize marijuana. Then they raided a California reservation grow operation in June, violating both the state’s sovereignty as well as the reservation’s, not to mention exposing themselves as hypocrites. The Santee are willing to take that risk.
The reservation population consists of only about 400 citizens, and just legalized marijuana in June. However, growers have been hard at work and are trying to use their operation not only to prove to other tribes that this is a great opportunity, but also to “show the state how clean, how efficient, how proficient, safe and secure this is as an operation. We are not looking to do anything shady,” according to consultant Jonathan Hunt.
The resort would be the largest of its type in the world. If successful, it could fund housing, roads, jobs, and maybe even a little luxury on reservations nationwide that can be full of poverty and little opportunity.