Most Peninsula tribal reservations will ban marijuana as it legalizes in state

By Arwyn Rice, Peninsula Daily News

If you live on or visit a reservation on the North Olympic Peninsula, don’t bring marijuana.

At least four of the six tribes in Clallam and Jefferson counties will not recognize Washington state’s 2012 legalization of recreational marijuana.

The use and possession of pot will remain illegal on tribal lands controlled by the Makah, Lower Elwha Klallam, Jamestown S’Klallam and Quileute tribes, their representatives told the Peninsula Daily News.

The Hoh tribe in West Jefferson County has yet to make a decision.

Representatives of the Quinault did not respond to Peninsula Daily News requests for information on their policy toward marijuana.

Voters statewide legalized pot by approving Initiative 502 a year ago by a 56 percent to 44 percent margin.

The state is finishing procedures and regulations on marijuana in non-tribal areas.

Pot remains illegal on federal lands, including Olympic National Park and Olympic National Forest.

“Like the state of Washington and the United States, the Makah tribe is a separate sovereign,” a letter from Makah tribal authorities to tribal members said.

“We have a treaty that confirms our sovereignty and self-determination.

“A big part of that sovereignty is that state laws do not apply to the tribe and its territory.

“As a state law, I-502 could not and does not legalize marijuana within the Makah Reservation.”

Both Makah and federal law lists marijuana as a controlled substance. Possessing, using, buying and selling it is a federal crime, and a tribal crime, said Meredith Parker, general manager of the Neah Bay-based Makah tribe.

“So, on the reservation, the answer is easy: Every little bit of pot is illegal,” the notice to tribal members said.

“We will continue to follow federal law. It is part of the tribal policy as well,” said Sam Hough, Lower Elwha Klallam assistant general counsel.

“It is already a dry reservation,” Hough added.

Likewise, marijuana will not be welcome at 7 Cedars Casino, Cedars at Dungeness and other properties held by the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe.

“We believe we are on reservation/trust land held by the United States on our behalf, and since marijuana is illegal by federal law, it is illegal on our lands,” said Ron Allen, Jamestown S’Klallam tribal chairman.

The Quileute tribe, based in LaPush, also will observe federal marijuana laws, said Jackie Jacobs, Quileute spokeswoman.

The Hoh tribe is holding off a decision, said James Jaime, the tribe’s executive director.

“We don’t have a policy at this point in time,” Jaime said.

“We are waiting to see what the federal policy is in regard to the state law.”

The Washington State Liquor Control Board, charged with creating state’s marijuana regulations, added a rule that requiring notification of tribal governments if a vendor applies for a permit on tribal land.

The Yakima tribe, with the largest reservation in the state at 1.2 million acres, recently announced that marijuana sales and consumption would not be allowed on their lands.

Brian Smith, spokesman for the state Liquor Control Board said new state rules have no prohibitions against issuing permits on the Yakama reservation, but such permits would be impractical

“Why grant a license when the federal government is going to come in and take them down?” Smith asked.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.