Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Wyoming Tribe To Consider Legalizing Medical Marijuana, Hemp

Industrial hemp in Colorado
Colorado Department of Agriculture's Industrial Hemp Program
Industrial hemp in Colorado

The Eastern Shoshone in Wyoming is considering legalizing medical marijuana and hemp production.

While tribal representatives were unable to comment by press time, local news outlets report that the tribe’s General Council voted to look into the legalization earlier this year.

Richard Collins, a University of Colorado law professor, said it’s a challenging situation.

Tribes in states such as South Dakota and Wisconsin that tried something similar were reined in by those states and federal authorities. While federal law says tribes can act like states when it comes to legalizing marijuana, federal authorities didn’t come to protect tribal rights in those cases. Collins said that’s likely because marijuana is still illegal under federal law.

“It would probably be up to the state of Wyoming to react,” he said. “My guess is it would react ... and if it did so, the feds would not protect the tribe.”

Hemp production is also complicated. The non-psychoactive cannabis plant is now legal under federal law. And if Wyoming finalizes its hemp program rules ahead of the 2020 growing season, as it plans to do, Collins says it’s possible the Eastern Shoshone and other tribes in the state will be able to produce it, too.

Correction: In an earlier version of this story, we said hemp production was not legal in Wyoming. While the state has not started licencing hemp production in the state yet as it waited on federal rules, the legislature has legalized hemp production. Find reporter Madelyn Beck on Twitter  @MadelynBeck8

Copyright 2019 Boise State Public Radio

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada, the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

Copyright 2020 Boise State Public Radio News. To see more, visit .

Madelyn Beck is a regional Illinois reporter, based in Galesburg. On top of her work for Harvest Public Media, she also contributes to WVIK, Tri-States Public Radio and the Illinois Newsroom collaborative.
Madelyn Beck
Madelyn Beck is Boise State Public Radio's regional reporter with the Mountain West News Bureau. She's from Montana but has reported everywhere from North Dakota to Alaska to Washington, D.C. Her last few positions included covering energy resources in Wyoming and reporting on agriculture/rural life issues in Illinois.
KUER is listener-supported public radio. Support this work by making a donation today.