Bay Mills Indian Community Legalizes Recreational Marijuana on Its Reservation

Published April 14, 2019

BAY MILLS INDIAN COMMUNITY — The Bay Mills Indian Community, based in Brimley, Michigan, has legalized the recreational use of marijuana. By doing so, the Bay Mills Indian Community becomes the first tribe of twelve federally-recgonized tribes in Michigan to legalize marijuana. The reservation is 15 west of Sault Ste, Marie in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Below is the statement distributed by the tribe:


Bay Mills Indian Community continues to be a leader in Indian
Country. The tribe that launched the first tribally-owned gaming establishment in
Michigan is now the first tribe in the State of Michigan to legalize the recreational
use of marijuana on the reservation.

On April 8, the Bay Mills Executive Council formally adopted an ordinance allowing
individuals to cultivate, possess, and use marijuana. The move comes at the
direction of the General Tribal Council, the governing body of the tribe. In January,
the GTC voted in favor of legalization, authorizing the Executive Council to create an
ordinance within 90 days.

BMIC’s ordinance mirrors state law in regards to personal possession, cultivation
and use. Michigan voters approved recreational marijuana use last November. By
mirroring state law, tribal members are now on equal footing with state residents.
Commercial marijuana businesses are not being authorized on the reservation at
this time, as marijuana use is not permitted in public. Under the Tribe’s new law,
only those age 21 and older are permitted to use and possess marijuana. Individuals
who have previous convictions in tribal court for marijuana-based offenses can
move to have those convictions vacated. BMIC will no longer criminalize marijuana
offenses, as long as the guidelines of the ordinance are followed.

“Our tribal government does not necessarily promote the use of marijuana, but we
believe that criminalizing it is bad policy,” said BMIC Tribal Chairman Bryan
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.”

Across the country, several tribes have asserted their sovereign power to legalize
recreational marijuana use, but of Michigan’s 12 federally recognized tribes, Bay
Mills is the first to act.

The National Congress of American Indians also supports these actions, citing,
“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.”

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