California tribes band together to defend marijuana business rights

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A new association of Native American tribes is asking California’s governor to start discussions that will ensure the state’s marijuana rules respect tribal sovereignty and allow the groups to self-regulate so they aren’t left behind as the newly regulated cannabis market develops.

The California Native American Cannabis Association’s move comes as the state tries to implement a new regulatory system for recreational and medical marijuana by January 2018 under a law that doesn’t address tribal sovereignty, Indian Country Today reported.

One of the association’s goals is to allow tribes to enter the marijuana industry and participate independently of California’s regulations, according to the news outlet.

Association members have expressed concerns they’ll be passed over for opportunities when the state’s cannabis market reaches full force.

“We should not be subjected to the business licensing structure that the state is putting in place because we are self-governing nations and should be treated as nations,” Tina Braithwaite, Utu Utu Gwaitu Paiute Tribe chair and an association member, told Indian Country Today.