- Associated Press - Thursday, November 5, 2015

MACY, Neb. (AP) - Leaders of the Omaha Tribe in Nebraska are considering land in western Iowa for growing marijuana.

The Sioux City Journal (https://bit.ly/1HbVfMA ) reports tribal members approved three referendums Tuesday giving the Tribal Council the authority to legalize marijuana for medicinal and recreational use and to grow plants for industrial hemp.

The tribe is based in northeast Nebraska, but its reservation extends into Iowa’s Monona County. The Omaha Tribe has operated a casino near Onawa, Iowa, since the early 1990s.

Tribal Chairman Vernon Miller said a study will examine whether the business would make financial sense.

Miller said the results of Tuesday’s vote showed the changing attitudes about marijuana among tribal members, half of which he said are under the age of 28.

“We were optimistic about how the vote would turn out just because of the progressiveness of the younger generation of our tribal members,” the chairman said.

According to Wehnona Stabler, CEO of the Carl T. Curtis Health Education Center in Macy, the tribe would benefit from medical marijuana as an alternative treatment for cancer, diabetes, epilepsy and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Stabler said, “Western medicine that we promote now is not ours. This was forced on us by the government — the Indian Health Service and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.”

According to Stabler, the tribe also has an abundance of hemp that grows wild on its Omaha reservation that can be used.

Miller says leaders will closely watch the performance of the Flandreau Santee Sioux’s marijuana resort on its reservation in South Dakota, about 45 miles north of Sioux Falls. Miller says it’s too early to know whether the Omaha Tribe’s casino, Blackbird Bend, could expand into a similar resort.

Miller says the tribe will work to ensure that any proposed plan would not violate federal or state laws by talking with law enforcement agencies and attorneys in Iowa and Nebraska as the tribe deliberates plans.

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This story has been corrected to show that tribal members, not leaders of the tribe, approved the referendums.

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Information from: Sioux City Journal, https://www.siouxcityjournal.com


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