A number of recent press articles have inaccurately characterized the issue of Native American Tribes being excluded from participating in California’s legal cannabis industry. While encouraging that the topic of tribal cannabis is garnering attention, it’s inaccurate to claim “the legalization of recreational marijuana in California left American Indians out in the cold,” (San Diego Union Tribune), or “there’s no path in state law for Native Americans to join the regulated market.” (The Mercury News). Existing state law provides a pathway – though we recognize it may be less than ideal for many tribes.
Tribes are not being shut out – quite the contrary. RCRC devoted nearly two years working with tribal leaders developing an alternative pathway allowing cannabis operations on tribal land to interact with California’s regulated cannabis market, resulting in a Memorandum of Understanding process mirroring the pathway used by many tribes with gaming operations. While this proposal did not make it to the Governor’s desk, we believe it still provides a viable framework for local governments and tribes. RCRC stands ready to revisit this agreement, which represents an opportunity for advancement in the most rural, economically-depressed regions of California.