Last fall we were delighted with the idea of a marijuana smoking resort that was supposed to be built on tribal land in South Dakota. The Santee Sioux tribe had hopes of bringing in $2 million in profits each month that would go towards giving the tribe members an income, as well as providing community services. They had gotten as far as growing a first crop when a couple of tribes in California were raided for possible third party involvement – and two weeks later they burned their entire crop and decided to grow vegetables instead.
Now, eight months later, the two consultants who helped them get as far as they did are being charged with conspiracy to possess marijuana. Eric Hagen, the Chief Executive of Monarch America (a Colorado-based consulting company) was charged with conspiracy to possess, possession and attempt to possess more than 10 pounds of marijuana. So he was not only charged with conspiracy of possession, but also charged with possession as though they had caught him with it red-handed.
Jonathan Hunt, the Vice President of Monarch America, acted as their cultivation expert and he was charged with conspiracy to possess between half a pound and a pound of marijuana. It is unclear why Hagen is seeing multiple charges and a much more direct one; especially considering it was Hunt who was found to have ordered the seeds (which they assume were used to grow the crop) from a Netherlands company who smuggled them into South Dakota in CD cases sewn into shirts.
Though a law does make it possible for tribes to cultivate and sell marijuana on their reservations, there is still a lot of grey area that prevents many from moving forward with actual plans to do so. Things such as whether or not they can sell to non-Indians, if a resort style retreat with a smoking lounge would be permitted, how consultants like Hagen and Hunt can help without ending up in legal trouble and so much more are simply unclear – leading to things such as the raids and the end to plans that would have brought in a whole new world of revenue for this tribe.
Unfortunately, when dealing with the federal government you have to come to realize that charges like these ones will not just go away. These men are faced with these charges simply for doing their jobs – consulting and helping to grow a new business venture (even if they may have crossed lines when ordering their seeds from overseas). This is just one more excellent example of why cannabis legalization is so important – it would get rid of the grey areas almost entirely and conspiracy charges wouldn’t have to have been brought up at all.