Yakama Nation Won't Recognize Wash. State's New Pot Law

Oct 28, 2013

Washington state’s new law allowing for personal marijuana use by adults won’t be recognized on the Yakama tribal reservation. 

The Yakama Nation has decided that despite the wish of state residents in voting to allow for marijuana use, they will not allow cannabis to be consumed or grown on the reservation.

Tribal attorney George Colby says in part, it is an issue of tribal sovereignty.

“In fact, the state constitution, when the territory was formed, gave up the right and title to Indian lands. We have the same exact opposition to the marijuana imitative as we did to the liquor initiative, and we stopped the hard liquor licenses coming on to the reservation, because the citizens of the state of Washington don’t get to decide what happens on state lands,” Colby said.

Colby says marijuana is not a part of the Yakama Nation's culture, medicines, or traditions. He says the Treaty of 1855 requires the tribe to turn over those who violate laws of the US to federal authorities. Since use of cannabis is still considered a violation of federal law, that policy will remain in effect.