Washington tribe tries to keep marijuana out of large swath of state: report

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A Native American tribe in Washington state is trying to keep the burgeoning marijuana business out of its corner of the state, a new report said.

Reuters said the 10,000-member Yakama Nation already outlawed marijuana on its 1.2 million acres of reservation in central Washington, even though the state at large joined Colorado in allowing adults to legally possess small amounts of the drug.

Yet the tribe also wants to prohibit pot cultivation and sales on a 10.8 million-acre swath it ceded in an 1855 treaty with the U.S. government because it still holds hunting, food-gathering and fishing rights there, the news agency said.

“Marijuana is the biggest problem for our people up to age 40,” George Colby, attorney for the Yakama Nation, told Reuters. “It’s a bigger problem than alcohol.”

The report said that while the tribe faces an uphill legal battle, it blocked a landfill project in the past and a quarter of the contested land is national forest, where marijuana is illegal under federal law.

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