PABLO — Tribal Council approved Resolution No. 22-006 on October 14th, 2021, which amends Tribal Ordinance 103-A to update the marijuana drug violations for youth (under 18 years of age) and adults (ages 18-21 and 21+). In response to Montana state laws decriminalizing misdemeanor marijuana criminal offenses, the Council decriminalized use and possession of marijuana for amounts less than two ounces (except that less than 16 grams can be in concentrated form) for adults 21+, pending review by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Adults 18-21 years of age would be subject to certain civil penalties for marijuana use and possession, while youth would be subject to a status offense for use and possession of marijuana. Exceeding the limitations identified above is either a serious offense (for youth) or a felony (subject to concurrent jurisdiction with Montana) for individuals age 18 and over. These code revisions will ensure that tribal members are not punished more severely than non-Indians for marijuana use and possession and will update the Tribal code where it has incorporated Montana drug violation laws. Members should also be on notice that federal law still identifies marijuana as an illegal Schedule 1 drug and that these changes only provide that the Tribes will not pursue criminal offenses for the amounts identified above.
These legal adjustments will ensure fairness and equity while helping reduce recidivism of our membership by decriminalizing marijuana and promoting a healthier tribal community through culture, education, essential services, and jail diversion programs. While there is a segment of the tribal population that has lobbied for relaxed laws on recreational marijuana, Council’s actions currently do not authorize the expansion of recreational marijuana licensing and/or regulation. That includes, but is not limited to, cultivation, manufacturing, dispensing, sales, or transporting.
This Resolution does not void, supersede, or alter any other policies or laws of CSKT, which includes, but is not limited to, personnel policies or drug/alcohol policies like those at Salish Kootenai Housing Authority or CSKT’s Personnel Department. The Resolution also does not “void, supersede, alter, modify, or diminish obligations of CSKT employees or programs that restrict the use or possession of marijuana nor does this resolution void, supersede, alter, modify, or diminish state or federal laws, policies, or other obligations or agreements, where applicable with the Tribes, that may restrict the use or possession of marijuana.”
Aligning with previous stances on marijuana, the resolution states that marijuana holds no historical cultural significance to the Salish, Kootenai or Pend d’Oreille. Council passed the Resolution by a unanimous vote of 9-0.