A South Dakota tribe is moving ahead with plans to open a marijuana resort in a 10,000-square-foot bowling alley on reservation land without federal interference, much to the chagrin of local law enforcement that fear an influx of problems.
The Santee Sioux tribe in Flandreau, South Dakota, learned that it would not face prosecution from the U.S. Department of Justice if it opened its marijuana resort on New Year's Eve, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reported.
State authorities have said that the decision to open the resort will drive drug trafficking to the rest of South Dakota, where marijuana remains illegal.
Moody County Sheriff Troy Wellman told the newspaper that his department will not be able to control the expected crime increase that is sure to flow in and out of the reservation. He said he will demand funding for more deputies.
"It will remain law enforcement's responsibility to enforce state law where the state maintains jurisdiction on non-tribal lands and on our highways for purposes of public safety," Marty Jackley, the state's attorney general, said in June, according to the Argus Leader.
Flandreau Police Chief Anthony Schrad said in June that he needed more information about the resort to know how his department will respond.
"We really can't formulate a law enforcement response without knowing the dynamic of the legalization process and how they will manage the distribution and cultivation of marijuana," Schrad said.
Seth Pearman, tribal attorney for the Santee Sioux, told Al Jazeera that the resort
will be open to the public and will sell marijuana and alcohol to adults over 21 years old. He said that the tribe had been touring other marijuana-growing facilities around the country in preparation for their resort opening.
The Santee Sioux is partnering with Monarch America, a Colorado-based marijuana consulting firm, to beef up its knowledge about cultivating the plants.
While Pearman said the sales will be closely regulated, some on the reservation have openly complained about the potential hazards of the resort.
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