SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - An American Indian tribe slated to open the nation's first marijuana resort is destroying its crop and temporarily suspending the project in South Dakota while leaders seek clarification from the federal government, according to the tribe's attorney.
The Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe, which planned to open a lounge selling marijuana on New Year's Eve, was the first tribe in South Dakota to legalize the drug following the U.S. Department of Justice's decision last year to allow tribes to do so on tribal land.
Seth Pearman, the tribe's lawyer, said in a statement Saturday to the Argus Leader newspaper (http://argusne.ws/1HzRdIH ) that the tribe was destroying its existing crop and temporarily suspending its marijuana cultivation and disturbing facilities. He said tribal leaders were confident that the venture would succeed after seeking clarification from the Justice Department.
"The tribe will continue to consult with the federal and state government," and it hopes to be granted parity with states that have legalized marijuana, Pearman said.
Tribal President Anthony Reider didn't immediately return voicemail and text messages from The Associated Press seeking comment Saturday evening. Jonathan Hunt, vice present of Monarch America, a Denver-based marijuana consulting firm hired by the tribe, told the AP that a reported fire Saturday was caused by wood and not marijuana. He declined further comment.
The tribe has said the project could generate up to $2 million a month in profit. But some state officials have questioned the plan, including Attorney General Marty Jackley, who has said any changes in tribal laws wouldn't affect nontribal land or anyone who wasn't a tribal member.
On Saturday, Jackley said the tribe's decision to temporarily suspend the project was "in the best interest of both tribal and non-tribal members." He acknowledged that he and tribal officials haven't always agreed, but he promised to help the tribe as it moved forward.
The tribe's executive committee voted in June to make the sale and use of marijuana legal on its reservation in Moody County, about 45 miles north of Sioux Falls.
AP/Nov. 7, 2015
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