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News Link • Drug War

Tribes Can Legalize Pot, Justice Department Decides

• http://www.usnews.com-Steven Nelson

Four western U.S. states have decided to allow recreational marijuana sales, but legal pot may soon be within driving distance of many more Americans following a new Department of Justice decision.

In a memo released Thursday, the department outlined new policies allowing American Indian tribes to grow and sell marijuana on reservation lands.

Possession of marijuana is a federal crime, but the department announced in August 2013 it would allow states to regulate recreational marijuana sales. The nation's first recreational pot stores opened in Colorado and Washington this year.

Residents of Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia voted in November to also legalize marijuana, though Congress appears likely to block sales in the nation's capital.

The new federal policy will allow tribes interested in growing and selling marijuana to do so, if they maintain "robust and effective regulatory systems," John Walsh, the U.S. attorney for Colorado, told the Los Angeles Times.

Tribes will need to avoid eight enforcement triggers that currently apply to state marijuana sales, including a prohibition on sales to minors and the diversion of marijuana to states where it remains illegal under local law.

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