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Flandreau: Tribal medical pot cards leading to arrests

February 19, 2022 GMT

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — An American Indian tribe in South Dakota says police are arresting people who buy medical marijuana at the tribe’s dispensary.

The Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe operates the only medical marijuana dispensary in the state. Tribal officials say more than 100 people who have been issued tribal medical marijuana identification cards have been arrested since the store opened in July. The tribe has issued about 8,000 cards to tribal members and people who aren’t tribal members.

The Argus Leader reported Friday the state Department of Public Safety and the attorney general’s office have taken the position that the cards aren’t valid for people who aren’t tribal members. Flandreau Police Chief Zach Weber said his department is following that directive and arresting people with cards if they’re not tribal members.

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“If they have a tribally-issued card and they are non-Native American, we seize the card and any of the marijuana products that they would have,” Weber said.

The tribe is defending cardholders in court if they choose to fight their charges. The tribe’s attorney general, Seth Pearman, told lawmakers this week that his office is currently involved in at least 10 active marijuana cases involving people who aren’t tribal members.

“I don’t think the state has the authority to revoke a license issued by another jurisdiction,” he said.

The tribal medical marijuana program operates independently of the state’s medical marijuana program. State health officials started issuing state medical cards last fall, though no state-licensed dispensaries, grow facilities or testing sites are operating.