After Gov. Scott Walker refused to change his mind this week about a proposed $800 million Kenosha casino, leaders of the Menominee Tribe are weighing their options; whether or not to file suit in federal court or embark on a marijuana growing operation.
University of Wisconsin-Madison law professor law professor Richard Monette told the Milwaukee Business Journal that tribal leaders do have a legal leg to stand on by challenging the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Specifically, Monette said the Menominee could try to prove the act violates the U.S. Constitution because it grants governors the authority to accept or reject decisions by the U.S. Interior Department Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The authority to decide on a trust request and a connected casino proposal rests solely with the executive branch of the federal government and cannot be transferred to a state governor, Monette is quoted as saying. He also said he could the issue going all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In other news, the Menominee are also looking into starting a marijuana grow operation and selling their crops to businesses in states where marijuana is now legal, jsonline.com is reporting.
Despite state laws against it, the Menominee are eligible to legally grow marijuana because the tribe is exempt from state laws, and the federal government told federal prosecutors to not stop tribes from growing marijuana on their reservations. Getting the crop(s) to states where selling and using marijuana is legal could pose significant hurdles, tribal legislator Craig Corn told the newspaper.
The U.S. Department of Justice does allow for the enforcement of drug laws, though, to prevent “the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal under state law in some form to other states,” the story continues.
To get around those laws, the Menominee would have to establish compacts with states to allow the shipments to move through them even where marijuana remains illegal. Still, Ken Fish, a counselor who helps represent people in tribal court, said it could be done.
“There is a big demand in states that sell medical marijuana….It is a huge market,” Fish told the newspaper. “Whoever gets there first is going to capitalize.”
In fact, California tribe Pinoleville Pomo Nation is getting ready to grow medical marijuana, and the Poarch Creek tribe in Alabama told Florida it will plant marijuana on land the tribe owns in that state unless they’re given gaming rights there.