Bay Mills Indian Community Becomes First Michigan Tribe to Legalize Marijuana

The Bay Mills Indian Community became the first tribe in the state to legalize recreational marijuana.

Back in January, the tribal council voted to approve the legalization of recreational marijuana.

They officially adopted the ordinance at the beginning of this week..

The tribe says they are not endorsing the use of marijuana but simply making the laws on par with the rest of the state and protecting their members.

“We really wanted to eliminate the seams between Michigan’s laws and our laws when it comes to marijuana,” Bay Mills Tribal Chairman Bryan Newland, said.

Newland says their new law, for the most part, mirrors the state law passed in November.

“It’s exactly the same provisions when it comes to personal use, so the limit on age, you have to be over the age of 21,” Newland, explained.

“We did not take the step to authorize commercial grow operations or dispensaries or other for-profit marijuana businesses at this time,” Newland, added.

What comes with the new law could be a new lease on life for tribal members who were convicted of marijuana related crimes in the past.

They now have a chance for a clean record.

“That is now legal under our laws. You can go to our court, file a motion and ask the court to overturn your prior conviction and get that removed from your criminal record,” Newland, explained.

“We want to make sure that this is not something that hangs over your life as a cloud and prevents your ability to see your kids, to get a house, to get a job and lets you go about it and move on with your life,” Newland, said.

Marijuana is still illegal under federal law and that’s why tribal leaders are still working closely with the feds to protect members and their tribe.

“We are going to try and take a go-slow approach and make sure we are in-sync with the state of Michigan and what’s going on all around us and not put our tribal members where they are at risk of federal law enforcement,” Newland, said.