When it comes to US policy on cannabis, we have a system that might be comparable to a black box device. According to a lazily referenced Wikipedia entry, a black box entails “a device, system or object which can be viewed in terms of its inputs and outputs… without any knowledge of its internal workings. Its implementation is ‘opaque’ (black).” It’s a system that works without anyone on the outside being able to tell how it operates.
The only difference between the black box metaphor and our justice system’s enforcement of cannabis is that said enforcement is a system that doesn’t work and which no one on the outside can tell how it operates.
Thus, we have the case of the Menominee Indian tribe, which had their land in Wisconsin raided by federal agents last week, despite the fact that the Justice Department told Indian tribes that they were free to legalize pot last year. Overall 30,000 marijuana plants were seized from the land. Not only does the Menominee tribe maintain that they were within the regulations set by the DoJ, but they weren’t even growing cannabis as such — only hemp.
This comes only a week after a federal court told federal agencies to knock it off with regards to policing regionally legalized marijuana practices.
“This odd federal policy of encouraging investment and then raiding the new business sets us back a few decades in federal tribal trust and economic policy,” Lance Morgan, a tribal cannabis law expert and member of Nebraska’s Winnebago tribe, told U.S. News. “How can you allow people to buy marijuana in a retail environment in some states and then raid an industrial hemp operation of a tribe? The only difference is that there is a tribe involved,” he went on to say.
And this is far from the other example of a bunch of federal lames pooping American Indian marijuana parties since the decision to let tribes legalize. Two tribes were f’ed with in California last summer, resulting in over 55,000 cannabis plants going to waste.
“The new federal policy of ‘sort of’ allowing tribes to get into the marijuana business is especially cruel and unusual because it encourages investment, but after the investment is made the federal government comes and shuts it down and the investors lose all their money,” says Morgan.
Outrage is in no short supply over the recent affront to tribal sovereignty in Wisconsin. “It’s not like [the Menominee] were doing a clandestine marijuana grow,” Eric Steenstra, president of the advocacy group Vote Hemp, told U.S. News. “They told them upfront what they were doing… We’re definitely frustrated and disappointed.”
Menominee Tribal Chairman Gary Besaw was highly critical of the federal government’s practices in a released statement.
The Justice Department has released no response as of press time.