by Andrew Walden
In Indian Country, the drive is on to profit from legalized marijuana -- and OHA cronies pushing to transform Hawaiians into a fake Indian tribe want a slice of the action.
The green gold rush started with a October 28, 2014 Obama administration memo in which the US Department of Justice announced it would no longer be enforcing federal marijuana laws on tribal land located within states which had in some way legalized marijuana. In mid-December, Congress quietly sent President Obama a federal spending bill with a clause effectively ending the federal prohibition on 'medical' marijuana.
Lawyers and tobacco companies began organizing the tribes almost immediately. Representatives of 75 tribes gathered at the Tulalip Resort Casino in Washington state in late February for a "Tribal Marijuana Conference" and set a March follow-up meeting for Las Vegas. As many as 200 tribes are expected for an upcoming marijuana conference in San Diego.
Indian Country Today March 2, 2015 reports: "A Hawaiian Cannabis Consultant, Scott David asked that the Hawaiian Sovereign Nation be allowed to participate in the Las Vegas meeting in light of their impending federal recognition." David, the principal of "Hawaii Cannabis Consulting," did not respond to a request for comment.
In May, 2015, Naiopua 2020, whose Directors include Office of Hawaiian Affairs Chair Robert Lindsey, announced it was considering building a marijuana dispensary and grow-op on DHHL land near Kealakekua High School. The Naiopua 2020 website asks: "Is medical marijuana in our association's future?" and says, "the Association Board has scheduled an invitation to meet with a native Hawaiian entrepreneur currently operating out of Arizona and Las Vegas."
Is Lindsey's group alone?
David's website announces, "We are feverishly in the middle of working with multiple hui's going for an HB321 license." He touts, "New vertical consulting services for Native Americans and Hawaiians" explaining, "With the passage of the new U.S. Federal spending bill, it allows the use and sale of cannabis on Native American lands. This presents a huge opportunity for them to provide medicine to who chooses to live on or visit Native American land. Hawaiian Cannabis Consulting can assist any tribes that look to enter the market either from a cultivation or distribution perspective."
The UK Telegraph: " ...as many as 200 tribes understood to be considering growing cannabis on their land.... Native Nation Events ... is holding a conference on marijuana in San Diego in September. As many as 40 per cent of America’s 567 federally recognised tribes are expected to attend."
OHA is one of the least transparent Hawaii state departments and the effect is apparently rubbing off on the new licensing process for marijuana dispensaries. PBN August 6, 2015 reports:
"...how transparent the application process will be has yet to be determined....
Hawaii Department of Health officials say they are consulting with the state Attorney General about whether or not applicant names will be made public, and if so, when.
In Nevada, where applicant names were not released, at least five companies that lost bids for the state’s first medical marijuana licenses filed lawsuits against the state, claiming the lack of transparency was unfair....
Hawaii attorney Stephen Pingree told PBN that, based on New York news reports, it would seem that lawyers soliciting disappointed applicants could file litigation.
“Several of my clients have raised the concern about how transparent the merit selection process with Hawaii DOH will be,” he said.
Indians are hardly unanimous about marijuana, Smart About Marijuana, February 26, 2014 explains: “Members of the Tribes of the United States are among the most vulnerable in our country and among the most targeted by the Big Tobacco and Liquor industries. Our partnership with the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians (ATNI) and their opposition to marijuana legalization will send a strong message to American society that Big Marijuana is not welcome in the Tribes.” Simon Lee Sampson, of Yakama Nation added “...marijuana legalization will have a devastating impact on our communities – and we want none of it.”
Federal agents, State, and local police July 8 raided a massive marijuana grow-op allegedly bankrolled by a Canadian cigarette manufacturer on tribal lands of the Alturas Rancheria in Northern California. Marijuana profits had fueled infighting among the tribe's nine members.
The State's conflict of interest on tobacco taxes is well-documented. How would an oligopoly of eight marijuana dispensaries by political insiders affect Hawaii marijuana policy?