- By Chuck Hoskin Jr
The way that our society views hemp and cannabis is evolving, with many questions yet to be answered in the public’s mind. Some Cherokee Nation citizens have called on the Cherokee Nation to immediately hop on board, while others feel that we should steer clear of this new industry.
With that in mind, I believe we have a responsibility to carefully study any legal, medical or ethical barriers to the use of cannabis before deciding what our involvement will be as a tribal nation.
As a first step, we recently announced changes to our government employment policy regarding drug screenings for existing employees and new hires who hold a valid medical marijuana license. Tribal government employees will not be punished for undergoing medicinal cannabis treatment, and I remain supportive of all valid physician-prescribed treatments.
Even though medicinal consumption of cannabis is legal with a state-issued card in Oklahoma, it is important to note that federal law has not changed. Our Cherokee Nation policy change does not affect policies currently in place at Cherokee Nation Businesses, but CNB is currently reviewing all drug-testing policies. CNB entertainment facilities are located on tribal trust lands, and we remain committed to the safety of both our guests and our employees as we examine policy options within the regulatory framework applicable to those properties.
Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr.
Modernizing Cherokee Nation statutes and policies impacting this emerging industry is a complex road to navigate. Toward that end, we have assembled a team to help the tribe move forward carefully and responsibly. The Cherokee Nation Executive Work Group on Hemp, Cannabis and Related Opportunities is a seven-member panel that I appointed to study a broad spectrum of issues, including commerce, health care and agriculture.
Our exploratory team includes experts from our health services, government relations and natural resources departments, as well as the Cherokee Nation attorney general’s office and Cherokee Nation Businesses. Work group members will evaluate these complex issues and make recommendations for sensible and effective policy in this rapidly expanding area. This work group will report its findings and recommendations by the end of May.
Indian Country has a place at the starting line of this emerging industry, as hemp and cannabis products re-enter commercial and medicinal arenas after decades of being outlawed in the United States.
As laws change, work policies modernize and economic opportunities arise, Cherokee Nation will scrutinize whether hemp and cannabis offer long-term options for our citizens, our businesses and northeast Oklahoma. I believe the future is wide open, but we must look before we leap. Our prudent investigation will help to ensure success and sustainability before we step into this newest chapter of health care and economic development.
Chuck Hoskin, Jr. is the principal chief of the Cherokee Nation.
More Stories Like ThisWATCH: The White House Tribal Nations Summit
Tribal Leaders to Attend First In-person White House Tribal Nations Summit in Six Years
Tribal Business News Round Up: Nov. 28
Seven U.S. Senators Ask President to Release Leonard Peltier
Native News Weekly (November 27, 2022): D.C. Briefs
You’re reading the first draft of history.
November is Native American Heritage Month in the United States. We feel like every month — and every day — is a reason for celebrating Native Americans and our heritage. That’s what we try to do here at Native News Online, with stories each day that celebrate, inform and uplift American Indian and Alaska Native people. Over the past year or so, we have been especially busy with three important reporting projects that are having an impact across Indian Country:
- Indian Boarding Schools. We’ve reported and published more than 150 stories and special live stream video events to help shine a light on the dark era of boarding schools — and help create momentum for change.
- Native Health Desk. Launched in January, this reporting initiative was created to heighten awareness of Native American health inequities and spotlight pockets of progress in Indian Country. So far we’ve reported and published nearly 120 stories and launched a monthly health newsletter that reaches more than 23,000 readers.
- Native Bidaske. In March, we launched this live stream interview program to highlight the work of Native Americans who are making news and leading change in Indian Country. We have hosted guests from the federal government and Native rights advocates as well as Indigenous actors, comedians, journalists and models.
We hope you will join us in celebrating Native American heritage and history this November and invite you to consider the old adage that “Journalism is the first draft of history.” If you appreciate the voice Native News Online gives to Native American people, we hope you will support our work with a donation so we can build our newsroom and continue to amplify Native voices and Native perspectives.
Any contribution — big or small — helps us remain a force for change in Indian Country and continue telling the stories that are so often ignored, erased or overlooked. Most often, our donors make a one-time gift of $20 or more, while many choose to make a recurring monthly donation of $5 or $10. Whatever you can do, it helps fund our Indigenous-led newsroom and our ability to cover Native news.
Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you.