South Dakota is bringing felony charges against two leaders of Colorado-based cannabis consulting company Monarch America, which the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe had asked to help launch a cannabis project on Native American land.
While state authorities have no jurisdiction on reservation land, South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley said on Wednesday that non-tribal members have no authority to possess or conspire to grow cannabis in the state, the Argus Leader reports:
Jackley, in a press conference in a Moody County courtroom, walked a delicate line in alleging Eric Hagen and Jonathan Hunt violated state and federal law, while maintaining that tribal members weren't at fault in the exchange. Instead, he said, the tribe was made a victim by the pair.
According to prosecutors, Monarch CEO Hagen and Vice President Hunt bought cannabis seeds of 55 different strains from the Netherlands, which they allegedly had sent to South Dakota packaged in CD cases and sewn into t-shirts. The plan, Jackley said, was for the tribe to open a cannabis lounge.
After raising its first cannabis crop on tribal land, the Flandreau Santee Sioux decided to scrap the project over fears of a federal raid. (Read Leafly's full report.)
Hagen, 34, faces one count each of possession of more than 10 pounds of cannabis, conspiracy to possess more than 10 pounds of cannabis, and attempted possession of more than 10 pounds of cannabis. Hunt, 43, has been charged with conspiracy to possess cannabis.
Also on Wednesday, a tribe in Maine backed away from a plan to grow medical marijuana, saying it will instead grow hemp. The Passamaquoddy Tribe said it has cut off all contact on the cannabis idea last fall with Monarch America, even though the company said it was close to building a Maine cultivation facility with the tribe. The tribe said that was false.
Passamaquoddy CFO Darrin Coffin said that at this point, the tribe doesn't want to "push the boundary" by growing medical marijuana in Maine.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Header image of Monarch VP Jonathan Hunt via AP