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Crime, Law and Justice
In 2012, Washington and Colorado voters made history when they approved measures to legalize recreational marijuana. Washington Initiative 502 “authorizes the state liquor board to regulate and tax marijuana for persons twenty-one years of age or older.”Since the vote in Washington, the Liquor Board has written a complex set of rules for the state’s new, legal recreational cannabis marketplace. The agency has also set limits on the amount of marijuana that can be grown. And the Board has begun to license growers, processors and retailers.For now, the Obama administration has signaled it will not interfere with Washington and Colorado’s legal pot experiment, unless there is evidence that legal pot is “leaking” to other states or children are getting access to the legal product. The feds are also watching to see if criminal organizations exploit the legal market.The first marijuana retail stores in Washington opened in July 2014.Recreational marijuana is also set to become legal in Oregon on July 1, 2015 after voters approved Measure 91 in November 2014.

Tribes Reluctant To Follow Northwest Voters On Legal Marijuana

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Austin Jenkins
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Northwest News Network
File photo. Northwest tribes are in no rush to legalize marijuana.

The U.S. Department of Justice this week opened the door to a legalized pot market on tribal land.

But many Northwest tribes appear to be in no rush to go in the direction of Oregon and Washington voters.

The Department of Justice said it will treat Indian tribes that legalize pot with the same hands-off prosecutorial approach that it’s treated states with legal pot. That means there could be a potentially lucrative marijuana business on reservations even in states like Idaho, where pot remains illegal.

But it’s still up to the tribe.

Charles Sams of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation said drug law enforcement is a matter of public health.

“The tribe will continue to prosecute and cite those folks who are in violation of those laws,” he said.

In Washington, the Yakama Nation wants to ban sales both on its reservation and on millions of acres of surrounding land where it has treaty rights.

The Department of Justice decision came as a surprise to many tribes. The policy adviser for the Coeur d’Alene Tribe in north Idaho said legalizing pot hadn’t even been on the tribe’s radar.