Senate Committee Holds Listening Session to Address Cannabis Sovereignty for Indigenous Tribes

seneca nation territory

Representatives from a variety of tribes came together Friday to share their feedback on cannabis related issues on tribal land. Although this was a Senate Committee hearing, it was considered ‘informal’ and there were no actual Senators present. 

Testimony, which was given both in person and virtually, gave representatives from tribes such as Suquamish, Kumeyaay Nation, Santee Sioux, Seneca Nation and others the opportunity to discuss the need for relevant legislation when it comes to cannabis on tribal land, such as taxation, tribal contracts with the state government, and the need for the federal prohibition of cannabis to cease in order for tribal markets to feel safe on a national scale. 

Through it all though, the theme of sovereignty was most prevalent, discussing the need for a federal-state framework that allows tribes to regulate their own cannabis industry, completely free from interference. A Seneca Nation representative, one of many who spoke that day, remarked: 

Tribes and tribal communities are in the best position to determine what will and what won’t work on their territories, and we believe that the states have no role in the process.

The listening session comes a little more than three months after a coalition of nine U.S Senators came together to send a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland asking him to not allow federal prosecutors to interfere with tribes who were involved in cannabis and to “cease the enforcement of the Controlled Substances act on Tribal lands as it pertains to the growth, possession, and use of cannabis.” 

Following that same line, many witnesses who spoke on Friday brought up the issue of incremental reform, urging the Senate Committee to push for the passage of the SAFE banking act and HOPE act recently introduced

The Senate Committee panel will be accepting written comments from the public in regards to the issues of tribal cannabis through July 9th. Should you care to make comment, you can send your thoughts to

featured image credit: Ken Lund

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Chicana journalist, editor, educator, and organizer in Sacramento whose sole focus is to shed light on stories on our most impacted and marginalized communities, but even more importantly, for those stories to humanize those normally left out. She is an Ida B Wells Investigative Journalism Fellow 2022 Finalist, a member of the Parenting Journalists Society, and has bylines in The Courier, The Sacramento Bee, The Americano, Submerge Magazine among others.

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