Colville Business Council Chairman Jim Boyd issued a statement regarding the recent marijuana referendum that found narrow support, 1,044 for and 866 against, from Colville Tribal members during the 2015 General Election.

The council sought opinion from the membership prior to changing tribal policy that could legalize small amounts of marijuana on the reservation.

“We always have a lot of work to do, as a Tribe, on a wide range of issues,” Boyd said. “On this issue, an in-depth and wide ranging array of options need to be explored, and we really wanted to know if this is something that the membership wanted before we dove in.  Now we know.”

The Elections Committee released the results of the referendum June 20 via the 

Colville Tribal email broadcast system.

The state passed Initiative 502 in 2012, which defined and legalized small amounts of marijuana-related products for adults 21 and over on state land, and following the legalization of marijuana in four other western states in 2014, the U.S. Department of Justice released a memo outlining new policies that allow tribes to grow and sell marijuana on reservation lands.

As part of the tribal code amendment process in the February 26 edition of Tribal Tribune, the Colville Tribes’ Office of Reservation Attorney published a proposed amendment to the Colville Tribal Code that would “legalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana on the reservation.”

However, resolution 2015-383, passed on June 4 by unanimous decision, halted the previous amendment process to wait for the referendum result.

The purpose of a referendum was outlined in the Colville Tribal Code as follows: “On occasion it is necessary to conduct a referendum to determine the wishes of the general membership on a particular subject or action of the Business Council.”

 In the most recent referendum vote\, the CBC has upheld membership wishes.

In 2012, the CBC agreed to dispersing an additional 30 percent of the tribes’ historic $96 million settlement with the federal government over resource mismanagement. 

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