Joyce secures language in appropriations bill to protect tribal use of marijuana

Rep. Dave Joyce

U.S. Rep. Dave Joyce (R-OH) on Tuesday successfully secured language in a fiscal year 2023 appropriations bill to protect the rights of Native American tribes authorized to use, distribute, possess, or cultivate cannabis.

“Enforcing federal cannabis laws on tribal land, especially in cases where the tribe and the state have legalized cannabis use, is wrong and it needs to stop,” said Rep. Joyce. “These misguided enforcement actions have sent a chill through Indian country — tribes are unsure if the federal government will continue to enforce and prioritize federal marijuana laws only on reservations.”

Specifically, language offered by Rep. Joyce to protect tribes impacted by federal cannabis laws was included in the proposed FY 2023 funding bill for the U.S. Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. 

According to the language, none of the funds appropriated by the enacted bill to the U.S. Department of Justice or its agencies or bureaus or the Department of the Interior, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, or the Office of Justice Services, including those agency funds distributed to any Indian tribe via the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, may be used to enforce federal laws criminalizing the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of marijuana against any person in Indian country where tribal laws authorize such use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of marijuana.

Rep. Joyce, who is ranking member of the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, said he “worked closely” with the subcommittee chairman to include this language to prevent Interior and Justice entities from enforcing federal marijuana laws that are inconsistent with tribal laws.

“Tribes are sovereign nations, and they have just as much of a right to enact and enforce their own laws as states do,” said Rep. Joyce.

Tom Rodgers, president of the Global Indigenous Council and a Blackfeet tribal member, said Rep. Joyce has always listened to tribal stories and “thus our words of pain and loss.”

“He has always had the vision to act on those words. While words might be beautiful we know as indigenous people that action is supreme,” Rodgers said. “He has become a moral partner in this historical journey and we welcome our brother to this righteous cause of life.”