The Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe in South Dakota says police are detaining people who purchase medical cannabis at the dispensary on the tribe’s land.
This Native American medical pot dispensary is the only one permitted in the state. The tribe has issued nearly 8,000 cards cumulatively to tribal members and non-native residents of South Dakota. Of those 8,000 people, tribal officials say more than 100 people with tribal medical cannabis cards have been arrested since the store opened last July, according to AP News.
The state Department of Public Safety and the attorney general’s office have taken the position that the cards aren’t valid for people who aren’t tribal members, the Argus Leader reported Friday. Zach Weber, Flandreau’s police chief, said his department is following that directive and arresting people with cards if they’re not members of Santee Sioux.
“If they have a tribally-issued card and they are non-Native American, we seize the card and any of the marijuana products that they would have,” Weber said.
The tribe is defending cardholders in court if they choose to fight their charges, however. Seth Pearman, the tribe's attorney general, told South Dakota lawmakers this week that his office is currently involved in at least 10 active cannabis cases involving people who are not Santee Sioux.
“I don't think the state has the authority to revoke a license issued by another jurisdiction,” he said.
The Flandreau Santee Sioux medical cannabis program operates independently of the state's medical pot program. State health officials started issuing state medical cards last fall, but the state still doesn’t have legal sales or commercial market of any kind.