The Bay Mills Indian Community in Michigan legalized recreational cannabis on Monday, making it the first Native American reservation in the state to do so. Under the ordinance passed by the Bay Mills Executive Council, the possession, use, and cultivation of marijuana for personal use by adults 21 and older are now legal on the reservation located in Chippewa County on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Voters in Michigan legalized recreational marijuana in last November’s midterm elections with the approval of Proposal 1, with 55 percent of the electorate voting in favor of the measure.
Bay Mills Indian Community (BMIC) Tribal Chairman Bryan Newland said that the new ordinance brings tribal regulations in line with state law.
“Our tribal government does not necessarily promote the use of marijuana, but we believe that criminalizing it is bad policy,” said Newland. “Our new tribal law ensures that people on our lands are no longer at risk of prosecution for actions that are lawful everywhere else in Michigan.”
Cultivation Also Allowed
Personal possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana by adults will be allowed under the new ordinance, including up to 15 grams of cannabis concentrates. In one’s home, up to 10 ounces of marijuana may be possessed or processed. Up to 12 cannabis plants may be cultivated, with the possession of the cannabis produced through home cultivation also being legal.
The ordinance also legalizes the use, possession, manufacture, and distribution of marijuana accessories. The use of marijuana in public, possession of cannabis in view of the public, and use of cannabis near parks, schools, and public housing facilities will remain illegal.
Violations for possession in excess of legal amounts can be punished by up to three months in prison, a fine of up to $1,000, a community service requirement of up to 150 hours, up to 12 months probation, completion of an approved drug treatment program, or a combination of those penalties.
The ordinance does not permit any commercial cannabis activity by individuals or businesses, but it does reserve the right for wholly owned enterprises of the Bay Mills Indian Community to engage in cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, and sales pending further legislation.
The BMIC also said that those with convictions for past marijuana offenses that are now legal can petition the tribal court to have their records expunged. A statement from the National Congress of American Indians expressed the right of Native American tribes to create their own laws, including those for cannabis.
“Indian tribes are sovereign governments with the inherent right to set local laws addressing marijuana, including its medical and industrial uses, according to the public health and economic needs of their unique communities,” the statement reads.
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