Members of Red Lake Nation in Minnesota are voting on medical cannabis legalization this Wednesday. If they approve it, they will be the only tribe in the state with a medical cannabis program that allows flower, or smokable cannabis, as well as other options. 

Statewide, Minnesota has legal medical cannabis, but only in liquid, pill, and vape form, and other tribes have followed suit. Chippewa Cannabis Party member Kevin Jones Jr., who is heading up the legalization effort, told local media that he hopes the vote passes and then leads to full-scale legalization. The tribe has collected 2,500 signatures to get medical cannabis on the national ballot, and the tribal council approved adding the question. 

Jones said that he visited other tribal nations to see how they handled medical cannabis, and learned that other communities had seen a reduction in opioid overdoses since they legalized. He is running for a four-year term as a Redby representative under the Cannabis Party banner and wants to push legalization. 

Tribal Communities And The Approach To Cannabis

Tribes throughout the country have varying cannabis policies, and they don’t always mirror what happens on a larger state level. Just like outside the indigenous community, some leaders feel that legal and medical cannabis is a step towards less opioid and alcohol abuse, while others think it’s a gateway substance that leads to drug use. 

There are also official groups who deal with cannabis guidance in the world of indigenous peoples. Cherokee Nation, based in Oklahoma and the largest tribe in the U.S., announced an “Executive Work Group on Hemp, Cannabis and Related Opportunities” earlier this year to help make recommendations on tribal policies and consider whether or not cannabis should be legalized. 

If Red Lake Nation decides to go ahead and legalize flower, it will be a groundbreaking move for tribal legalization across the nation and local legalization in Minnesota, where representatives are also pushing legal cannabis.

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