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Medical marijuana still illegal under Cherokee tribal law

Posted: 11:11 PM, Jul 17, 2018
Updated: 2018-07-18 00:13:50-04

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. -- In a story you only saw on 2 Works for You, medical marijuana is still illegal under Cherokee tribal law.

"I think it will be good — for the economy — for everybody so...” said Autumn Swearingin, a Cherokee citizen of Oklahoma.

Just weeks after Oklahomans passed medical marijuana with state question 788 — tribes are wondering how they’ll adopt the new law.

Lawmakers are watching the roll out in Oklahoma, but for now the Cherokee Nation Attorney General’s Office tells 2 Works for You that if you carry a medical marijuana card and come on to tribal land or properties you could be in big trouble.

Under tribal law, the Cherokee Nation says marijuana in any form is still illegal. That’s despite the sweeping reforms passed in Oklahoma by citizens.

"If you are a tribal citizen, Cherokee or any other tribe and you cross onto tribal land you’re violating tribal law," said Chrissi Ross Nimmo, Cherokee Nation Deputy Attorney General. "If you’re a non-Indian you may be violating federal law.”

The Cherokee Nation, just like other tribes across the country, are sovereign and still has its own rules, laws and constitutions, even for marijuana.

"It’s important for us," said Nimmo. "We’re watching what the state is doing, first of all, the timing when people are actually able to receive licenses and have the product in their possession is important for us.”

The tribe is making sure its citizens and its employees know the current laws.

One example is Indian heath clinics. Most, if not all of them, are federally funded. Tribal officials say don’t expect to see any medical marijuana licenses or dispensaries to be popping up there anytime soon. 

Some citizens believe it's time for the tribe to follow what Oklahomans did at the ballot box. Others see why there could be issues.

"I can understand both sides why they wouldn’t pass it," said Lori Jones, wife of a Cherokee citizen. "There would be some legal issues there. I could see why the Cherokee Nation would be strict about wanting to pass a drug.”

And just like State Question 788, the Cherokee Nation tells 2 Works for You its citizens could also circulate a petition to get medical marijuana passed within the tribe.

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