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Yakama Tribes Take Pot Stand On Traditional Lands

File photo of a of a cannabis plant.

File photo of a of a cannabis plant.


Leaders of the Yakama Nation in central Washington say they see little benefit to sales or farming of legalized marijuana on their traditional lands.

The tribes are making moves to prevent anyone from operating a pot business on an area that adds up to one-fifth of the state’s land mass.

The Yakama Nation has a federal treaty from 1855. It says the people have the sole use of their 1.2 million-acre reservation, and that they can hunt, food-gather, and fish on 12 million acres beyond that.

It’s called ceded land. It would test federal courts to preventing pot farming or marijuana stores on the Yakama’s ceded ground.

“We understand that we are inviting potential litigation and controversy on the ceded area. And we don’t want this,” says George Colby, a treaty attorney for the Yakama Nation. “Marijuana has been very destructive to the youth of the Yakama Nation.”

The Yakama’s ceded ground includes 10 counties and the cities of Yakima, Ellensburg, Wenatchee, Goldendale and Pasco. The nation is filing hundreds of objections with the state to marijuana business license applications.

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