CASPER — The Eastern Shoshone General Council met Saturday at Rocky Mountain Hall in Fort Washakie to vote on legalizing medical marijuana on the Wind River Reservation.
The council did not meet quorum. Still, several resolutions were passed — resolutions are law on the reservation — including the authority to move forward with a medical marijuana commission to regulate, oversee and operate tribal-owned cultivation and extraction facilities for cannabis-related products under the Fort Bridger Treaties of 1863 and 1868.
Meanwhile the Northern Arapaho Tribe voted earlier this month in favor of decriminalizing marijuana.
The Eastern Shoshone General Council will reconvene June 12 to finish the process of voting on whether to decriminalize and legalize medical marijuana on the reservation. A special General Council meeting will also take place July 24, where General Council members can pick the process back up and not have to start from scratch. The General Council consists of all adult members of the tribe, while the Business Council is made up of elected officials.
Almost every Eastern Shoshone Business Council member voted against the resolutions passed by the General Council on Saturday, according to Bobbi Shongutsie, an Eastern Shoshone tribal member and medical marijuana advocate.
A public informational hearing was held at Rocky Mountain Hall this past Thursday. While there was some skepticism at the event, one thing was evident by the end of the meeting: The legalization of medical cannabis could be a huge economic boon to the Wind River Reservation.
“Our casino has us $50 million in debt,” Shongutsie said Thursday. “[Somewhere] around that. Plus, it was closed down for over a year. We need revenue.”
The Northern Arapaho Tribe decriminalized medical cannabis May 8 after meeting a quorum of 150 people. Still, Northern Arapaho Business Council Chairman Jordan Dresser expects the process to move forward slowly. According to Wind River Radio Network, he said the process could take some time.Wyoming has become increasingly surrounded by states who have legalized marijuana to some extent. Last year, Montana and South Dakota residents voted in favor of legalization, though the South Dakota decision remains tied up in the courts. Colorado is approaching a decade of legalization.