Washington’s Yakama Nation is trying to block marijuana businesses from operating on a 10.8-million-acre section of the state that it ceded to the United States government in an 1855 treaty.
The tribe still holds hunting, food-gathering and fishing rights to the territory.
The land spreads across 10 counties, and approximately a quarter of it falls on National Forest, where marijuana cultivation and sale is already banned. But Washington State has received approximately 1,300 business license applications from entrepreneurs that live within the territory.
The ban could further chase the industry out of Washington State’s rural interior. Already, cities and towns across the state have passed moratoriums and bans on the industry. Two communities that sit within the ceded land have already banned businesses there.
The Yakama have outlawed marijuana businesses on the 1.2 million acres of reservation land that the tribe controls in Central Washington’s Yakama Valley. An attorney for the Yakama Nation said the move is aimed at preventing more Yakama from using the plant, which the tribe sees as a major social problem.
“It’s a bigger problem than alcohol,” said George Colby, an attorney for the tribe.
The Yakama have a record of success in controlling the land in question and previously blocked a landfill from being constructed there.