In hopes of assuaging uncertainty about medical marijuana law enforcement after a Supreme Court decision ruled much of eastern Oklahoma to be reservation land, one tribe has passed new legislation protecting licensed patients.
Muscogee (Creek) Nation will allow specific exemptions related to medical marijuana within the reservation boundaries. Federal and tribal law does not recognize cannabis as a legal drug, and a Tulsa attorney spoke out early to warn licensed patients of McGirt’s possible legal ramifications.
Under the new legislation, patients with state licenses would be exempt from the tribe’s Title 14, regarding being in possession of a controlled dangerous substance, as long as they are in compliance under Oklahoma law.
The tribe had established a task force after the McGirt v Oklahoma ruling to address jurisdictional issues likely to arise from the decision.
The recommendation on medical marijuana legislation from the task force, the Mvskoke Reservation Preservation Commission, seeks to “give clarity and eliminate uncertainty as to whether the Nation will enforce any criminal law against anyone who possesses a valid medical marijuana license.”
The new law states, “it shall not be unlawful for any person to grow, process, dispense, test, possess, or use marijuana in any form in the Nation’s Indian country under a valid medical marijuana license issued by the Oklahoma State Department of Health as long as such person is in compliance with all medical marijuana license laws and regulations under Oklahoma State law.”
Principal Chief David Hill said in a statement the legislation is an example of the tribe exercising its sovereignty while addressing public safety issues within the reservation.
“Furthermore, this is a pro-business action by the Commission and commitment to individuals and entities licensed in medical marijuana endeavors throughout the reservation,” Hill said.
According to a statement from the tribe, the task force plans continued analysis to develop further recommendations regarding medical marijuana, possible regulatory and taxation authority, and economic development opportunities.
The Cherokee Nation early this year signaled its desire not to stand in the way of legalized medical marijuana; a Jan. 15 policy change prohibits discrimination of applicants and employees based on drug screens positive for THC.
“Landscapes are changing, and the Cherokee Nation needed to modernize its HR policies to reflect those changes,” Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said then. “I am committed to ensuring that we support all valid (physician-supported treatments).”