FORT WASHAKIE, Wyo. — Advocates for legalizing medical marijuana have been pressing their case in the days before a possible vote this weekend on Wyoming’s Wind River Reservation.
The Eastern Shoshone, who share the central Wyoming reservation with the Northern Arapaho Tribe, could vote on the issue Saturday during a meeting of the tribe’s General Council, the Casper Star-Tribune reports.
Legal medical marijuana and industrial hemp production could diversify the reservation economy, create jobs, and offer another medical treatment option, advocates have said.
A number of US tribes have legalized marijuana and industrial hemp in pursuit of economic and medical benefits. On Tuesday, the Oglala Sioux Tribe plan to vote on whether to allow medical and recreational marijuana.
Eastern Shoshone officials have said they do not plan to legalize recreational marijuana.
Wyoming law prohibits medical or recreational marijuana, and marijuana remains illegal under federal law. But the US Department of Justice since 2014 has treated tribes similarly to states and has not interfered with loosened tribal cannabis laws.
Recent public informational events have sought to win over skeptics on the Wyoming reservation.
“New faces are out there talking about it on a positive note," said Bobbi Shongutsie, an Eastern Shoshone member leading an effort to research the issue and draft proposals. "If we bring these people here, and they hear it and they see it for themselves, they’re going to believe us.”
The Eastern Shoshone General Council voted in September to create a group to research the issue and present proposals for a vote. Legalization of medical marijuana and industrial hemp cultivation was on the General Council agenda in January but the lack of a quorum prevented a vote.
Lack of a quorum also prevented a vote when medical marijuana and hemp cultivation were on a Northern Arapaho General Council agenda in December. The council may consider the issue again later this month.
The general councils, made up of all of the tribes’ adult members, oversee all tribal affairs including the tribes’ business councils, which consist of elected officials charged with day-to-day governing.