SD Tribe Consultants Charged With Marijuana Crimes

A pair of Colorado-based consultants who had previously been contracted to help a South Dakota tribe start a marijuana resort on Native American land have been charged with state narcotics crimes, and the tribe itself has decided to instead grow vegetables such as tomatoes.

The incident underscores how tribal interests in marijuana have cooled since a U.S. Department of Justice memo in late 2014 sparked a short-lived speculative rush that tribes nationwide could get the green light by the federal government to grow and sell cannabis.

The turnaround in tribal interest has dampened the opportunity for entrepreneurs in states without legalized medical or recreational cannabis.

It also has quashed opportunities for ancillary businesses to target a new crop of retail stores/dispensaries, cultivation sites and infused products companies.

The South Dakota tribe, the Flandreau Santee Sioux, represented the most ambitious of such plans after the Wilkinson Memo from the DOJ appeared to give the federal government’s blessing to tribes that wanted to get into the marijuana industry.

But the tribe instead decided to burn its fledgling marijuana crop last November, and now two of its cannabis industry advisers, from Monarch America, may be headed to jail.

A second tribe, the Passamaquoddy of Maine, made clear to the Associated Press on Wednesday it severed contact with Monarch America last year and is sticking to growing hemp instead of MMJ because it doesn’t want to “push the boundary.”

Correction: The headline and first paragraph of this story initially reported that two executives from Monarch America had been charged with federal narcotics crimes. That was incorrect. They have been charged with state-level crimes.