In July of this year, the Supreme Court ruled that the bulk of eastern Oklahoma does, in fact, belong to Native American tribes in the region. This landmark decision has opened many doors. One of the most prominent of which is the opportunity for Native American cannabis businesses to flourish on their own land.
Opening a budding cannabis operation in Oklahoma may now seem like an excellent idea. However, undertaking such a business venture is not without challenges. Don’t worry, though, we’ve got you covered.
Here’s everything you need to know about cannabusinesses operating on Native American land in Oklahoma.
Recent Legislation & Land Return
Without a doubt, the ruling in Oklahoma is a huge victory for native peoples across the United States. However, in his dissenting opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the decision has, “profoundly destabilized the governance of eastern Oklahoma.” Whether that’s true or not, one thing is for certain: This decision was handed down with virtually no preparation.
Seemingly overnight, more than three million acres of land were rightfully returned to Native American tribes. Unfortunately, this long-overdue decision created a dilemma for cannabusinesses operating on now-Native American land. Property rights, taxes, and more will all be in limbo in the coming months as the dust begins to settle.
For the cannabis industry as a whole, all we can really do at the moment is wait for the cards to fall. Once the outcomes of this decision are a bit clearer, we’ll come together and figure out a way to support Native American cannabis businesses in the region.
Native American Cannabis Operations
Native American cannabis businesses operate much differently than cannabusinesses under a state’s jurisdiction. On U.S. soil, cannabis operations are heavily regulated and stringently overseen — though this isn’t so much the case in Oklahoma. On the other hand, cannabusinesses operating on Native American reservations need only a charter.
Any cannabis operation on Native American land only requires a state-issued charter in order to get up and running. The terms of such a charter are fairly lax. Essentially, unless a government official walks in on something illegal happening, there’s nothing that the state can do about it. Furthermore, because they don’t technically operate within the United States, Native American cannabis businesses do not have to do any reporting whatsoever.
Federal Oversight of Native American Cannabis
Since these businesses operate on reservation land and outside of the state’s control, jurisdiction technically falls to the federal government. In fact, the Supreme Court made this decision because of an issue of jurisdiction. Essentially, the state of Oklahoma prosecuted a crime that took place on historically Native American land. The Court decided that the crime took place on tribal land and thus should be prosecuted by the federal government instead.
But if reservation land is under the jurisdiction of the federal government, why are cannabusinesses allowed to operate if they’re still federally outlawed?
In 2014, the Wilkinson Memo proposed a more hands-off approach to handling Native American cannabis operations. This memo compared Native American reservations to states in that they have the power to legalize and regulate their own recreational and medical cannabis programs. Because of the Wilkinson Memo, Native American cannabis businesses can operate in a safe and above-board fashion.
Future Potential of Cannabis in Oklahoma
Across the United States, there’s an increasing number of opportunities to get into the cannabis arena. This is especially true in Oklahoma, where applications are plentiful, cost only $2,500, and ask only 13 questions. Still, the many opportunities Oklahoma offers don’t come without risk.
In general, Oklahoma is a highly unregulated state. Because there are so many license holders, it’s virtually impossible for regulations to be enforced. As a result, it’s way too easy for product not to get tracked and end up going out the back door. Doing business that way is dangerous, so the onus falls to the cannabusinesses in the region to essentially keep themselves in check.
If you plan to take advantage of the opportunities in Oklahoma, it’s crucial to find knowledgeable and experienced professionals whom you trust to help you get your operation off the ground. Here at Higher Yields Cannabis Consulting, our team of experts can help you safely set up and maintain a legally compliant operation anywhere.
Getting your cannabusiness up and running in Oklahoma is difficult but not impossible. Book a free consultation today and learn how to get started.