Ho-Chunk Nation, an American tribe in Wisconsin, announced on their Facebook page they recently voted to legalize the sale of marijuana on tribal lands.
Ho-Chunk Nation is trying to balance between legalizing marijuana and combating its negative effects on the tribe and surrounding areas, Collin Price, spokesperson for Ho-Chunk Nation said.
Price said 1,600 people joined the tribe’s General Council voting on Saturday, and according to the coverage from Channel 3000, 63 percent of voters were in favor of the resolution to legalize marijuana within the tribe.
Ho-Chunk Nation, however, still has a long way to go before they see any development on this issue, Price said. The resolution is still in its early stages and tribe leaders have yet to discuss the next steps. Price acknowledged there are many challenges moving forward, and the most important hurdle is marijuana’s illegal status in Wisconsin.
“We’re in no hurry at this point to make this a reality,” Price said. “We haven’t even sat down as a tribe and figured out which direction we’re going to go.”
The potential legalization of marijuana on tribal lands, however, has already received some resistance from surrounding areas, Richard Snake, a member of the Elderly Work Program in Ho-Chunk Nation, said. But, Snake said legalization will in no way harm the relationship between Ho-Chunk and surrounding communities.
According to Price, Ho-Chunk Nation has land throughout Southern Wisconsin, mostly in the Black River Falls area. They are also located in Madison, Green Bay, Milwaukee, La Crosse and Wittenburg. The shared land, he said, has fostered a good relationship between the tribe and neighboring non-tribal communities.
“We will reach out to those communities and community leaders and make sure we don’t do anything that’s going to adversely affect them,” Price said.
The reason for the resolution was largely economical, Snake said.
A month ago, the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin also endorsed the potential legalization of marijuana. According to the tribe’s website, they want to diversify the tribe’s economy and generate more revenue by using marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes. The Ho-Chunk are doing the same for similar purposes.
“A lot of it has to do with ‘cash crop,’ [as] they call it, ” Snake said. “They want to get some products to make more money for the tribe.”
This is the first time legalizing marijuana has become a formal resolution for the Ho-Chunk Nation, Price said.
The resolution might pose threats to tribal societies because they already face serious drug-induced problems. Just last year, Price said, the tribe declared a state of emergency because of the negative effects drugs have on the youth and adults in the tribe. They are trying to balance the economical and social factors moving forward.
“It’s not as easy as just getting rid of it or bringing it on, there are many parts of this, so we just [have] to sit down and work through each of them,” Price said.