Indian tribes across Oklahoma are warning citizens and people on tribal lands that medical marijuana is still illegal there.
Indian Country may be located within Oklahoma state borders but it is a different jurisdiction than the State of Oklahoma itself. There are a few states that opted into what's known as Public Law 280. It's where the tribes are under state jurisdiction but Oklahoma did not opt into the PL 280 status.
The Cherokee Nation says the law means nothing to them because state law doesn’t apply to them and medical marijuana is still illegal on Indian land. However, the tribe still has their own questions about enforcement of what's to come.
Their leaders are looking into whether they want their law to match state law or something different. And for law enforcement, it can be especially tricky because there are jurisdictional differences between Cherokee law, state law, and federal law.
The big question a lot of people are asking “can I take marijuana to a tribal casino? And that answer isn't cut and dry either.
The Assistant Attorney General for Cherokee Nation Chrissi Nimmo says most of the other two-plus dozen states that legalized medical marijuana also have tribes with their own laws on it. She suggests that the treatment may not be equal for people found with marijuana on tribal property.
"You could have an Indian and a non-Indian at a casino, both of them are medical marijuana license holders, both of them have product on them, and for whatever reason, they're searched or they drop it or whatever, they could be treated very differently under the law,” said Nimmo
She also mentioned the tribe could explore medical marijuana as an economic opportunity. Adding that a lot of details need to be ironed out.
A statement given by the Chief of Police for the Osage Nation Police Department states that marijuana will remain a Schedule I narcotic until otherwise reclassified by the Department of Justice. So, they will handle marijuana like they always have.