Two House Republicans ask Biden to address “discriminatory” marijuana enforcement on tribal lands
The letter from Reps. Brian Mast and Dave Joyce came after Biden’s federal pardon announcement last week.
As President Joe Biden announced his pardon of all federal simple marijuana possession convictions last week, two Republican Reps pointed another issue out in regards to marijuana policy that they want his administration to address.
On Friday, Oct. 7, Reps. Brian Mast from Florida and Dave Joyce from Ohio — co-chairs of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus — sent a letter to Biden asking him to address what they called “discriminatory” federal marijuana enforcement on tribal lands throughout the U.S.
“Legal, thriving cannabis programs are economic engines for Tribes,” the reps wrote.
As an example of the “discriminatory” enforcement, Mast and Joyce pointed to a raid by Bureau of Indian Affairs officers on a man’s property on the land of the Picuris Pueblo in New Mexico. Nine plants were destroyed in the raid.
The man was growing marijuana for personal therapeutic use, and his harvesting of marijuana was in compliance with tribal law, as the Pueblo had passed laws legalizing its use. In response, the man will now likely file a lawsuit against the federal government for $3.5 million in damages.
“These misguided enforcement actions have sent a chill through Indian Country,” wrote Mast and Joyce. “Tribes are unsure if the federal government will continue to enforce and prioritize federal cannabis laws only on reservations.”
Instead of prioritizing the enforcement of cannabis laws on reservations, Mast and Joyce urged Biden to focus agencies like the Bureau of Indian Affairs and related ones on “more pressing safety and justice needs.”
Those pressing needs include human trafficking on tribal lands and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.
Mast and Joyce also drove home the point of respecting Tribes’ sovereignty.
Beyond the letter, Mast and Joyce both included new language in the appropriations bill for the Interior’s Fiscal Year 2023 for basic protections against federal cannabis enforcement that conflicts with tribal laws.
“They have just as much of a right to enact and enforce their own laws as States do,” the reps wrote.