The United States Department of Justice announced Thursday that Indian tribes across the country can now grow and sell marijuana on their sovereign lands as long as the adhere to the same federal guidelines in place in the four states where the drug has been legalized for recreational use.
Specifically, tribes may not sell marijuana to minors, nor will they be allowed to transport the drug to parts of the country where it is illegal. That said, the DOJ's move effectively legalizes marijuana in portions of states where the drug remains otherwise outlawed.
"The tribes have the sovereign right to set the code on their reservations," said Timothy Purdon, the U.S. attorney for North Dakota and the chairman of the Attorney General's Subcommittee on Native American Issues, the Los Angeles Times reported.
What's more, tribes that opt to sell marijuana grown on reservations will not be subject to state and local taxes, the Associated Press reported, giving them a potentially lucrative business opportunity. In states like Colorado, steep taxes on marijuana sales go to help fund the public school system, inflating the cost for consumers.
"If tribes can balance all the potential social issues, it could be a really huge opportunity," Seattle attorney Anthony Broadman, whose firm represents several Western tribes, told the AP.
So far, only a few tribes have approached the Justice Department about getting into the marijuana trade, the AP reported.