US & Canada

South Dakota tribe burns marijuana crop over raid fears

A consultant is seen with marijuana seedlings on the Santee Sioux reservation on 24 September 2015 Image copyright AP
Image caption Marijuana seedlings had been growing in a facility on the reservation

Fearing a federal raid, a South Dakota Native American tribe is burning its marijuana crop, which it had planned to sell in a resort on its land.

The "marijuana resort" would have been the first of its kind, but concerns that the stockpile could be confiscated led tribe leaders to incinerate it.

The tribe says it wants to show cooperation with federal officials for future negotiations.

Whether the tribe can sell marijuana to non-Indians has come under question.

Representatives for the US Department of Justice did not tell Santee Sioux tribe leaders a raid was imminent, but the government reserves a right to conduct a raid at any time and the tribe would risk one if all the concerns about the resort were not addressed.

The Justice Department decided last year to let tribes grow marijuana on their land.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Marijuana had been growing on the reservation in Flandreau, South Dakota

Also in question is the origin of the marijuana seeds used for the tribe's crop.

The tribe had planned on opening a lounge selling marijuana - for consumption only in the lounge - on New Year's Eve.

"We just felt it would be best to go in with a clean slate to look for answers on how to proceed so that all sides are comfortable with it," said Flandreau Santee Sioux President Anthony Reider, adding that burning the crop was "in the best interest of both tribal and non-tribal members."

The 400-person tribe, which already runs a casino, hotel and ranch, had predicted the marijuana sales would make up to $2m (£1.3m) per month.

The lounge would have had games, food and a bar, and eventually a live music venue and slot machines.

In September Mr Reider said he wanted it to be "an adult playground".

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