First National Conference Set to Discuss Legalization of Marijuana in Indian Country

Native Leaders Called to Consider Significant Social, Political, Economic and Cultural Ramifications of Marijuana Legislation

 SEATTLE, WA,January 26, 2015 A ground-breaking national conference to examine the legal, political and social policy implications of marijuana legalization in Indian Country will take place in Washington state in February.  Tribal leaders, executives, entrepreneurs and Native health and social work professionals, and law enforcement personnel are being called upon to attend the conference scheduled for February 27, 2015 at the Tulalip Resort Casino in Quil Ceda Village, WA.

This unprecedented conference is being co-sponsored and organized by Odawi Law PLLC and Harris Moure, PLLC to help leaders in Indian Country fully understand the wide-ranging issues associated with embarking on the development of tribal marijuana legislation and considerations of commercial marijuana cultivation, manufacture and distribution in tribal jurisdictions.

Conference co-sponsor and organizer Robert Odawi Porter, a leading attorney in tribal sovereignty and treaty rights protections noted that in recent years, the national trend in social attitudes towards marijuana use have changed dramatically paving the way for new legislation in a significant number of states across the country.

“Given recent developments, we are excited to announce this historic opportunity for tribal leaders to gain a better understanding of the implications of marijuana legalization in their territories,” said Porter.  “We are bringing together some of the best, most experienced lawyers and commentators at the intersection of Indian law and marijuana law to share their experience in addressing the evolving issues surrounding recreational and medicinal marijuana usage in Indian Country.  Our goal is to pursue a balanced discussion of the important legal, business, social, and cultural questions that would inevitably affect Native societies were legalization to occur.”

Medical marijuana has been legalized in 33 states, has been made legal for persons over the age of 21 in four states, and has been legalized for recreational use in Washington and Colorado. In October 2014, the United States Department of Justice issued a “Policy Statement Regarding Marijuana Issues in Indian Country.” In this Statement, the DOJ stated that its enforcement priorities will apply “in the event that sovereign Indian Nations seek to legalize the cultivation or use of marijuana in Indian Country.”

Hilary Bricken, one of the foremost legal experts and premier cannabis business attorneys in the United States, is a co-sponsor and organizer of the Tribal Marijuana Conference. Bricken has extensive knowledge and experience with cannabis regulations and has testified before state and federal government panels. Bricken said, “There exists enormous new market potential for commercial marijuana initiatives on Native lands. This conference will extract the regulations and the legal and policy issues that are in place to assist Native leaders as they consider the myriad possibilities before they begin to embark on a path of commerce involving cannabis. This is an unparalleled opportunity for tribes to participate in a growing sector of commerce and diversify their economies, yet there is much to be considered to ensure successful implementation of tribal policy and law.” 

National experts will discuss the federal and state laws and policies regulating marijuana possession and use; the history of medical marijuana legislation, proposed legislative fixes on the horizon, and business development considerations.

For more details on the Tribal Marijuana Conference and registration information contact: Erica Curnutte at at (206) 224-5657 or or


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About the Conference Co-Sponsors and Organizers:

Robert Odawi Porter is one of the leading attorneys in the United States regarding the protection and expansion of American Indian tribal government sovereignty and treaty rights. His unique background as an in-house tribal attorney, a tribal business executive, and an elected president of the Seneca Nation of Indians, as well as serving as a tenured professor of Indian law at three national universities, gives him an unparalleled experience platform to assist his tribal clients in seizing opportunities and resolving complex issues at the intersection of law, politics, business, and social policy. As the legalization of marijuana continues throughout the United States, Rob will assist tribal officials and others in attendance to achieve a better understanding of the legal, political and social policy issues associated with marijuana legalization to help guide decision-making on the issue in Indian Country.

Hilary Bricken is one of the premier cannabis business attorneys in the United States. She helps cannabis companies of all sizes with their cannabis related legal issues, ranging from corporate structures and intellectual property protection to branding, licensing, and application of cannabis laws.  She worked extensively with lobbyists and the Liquor Control Board on I-502 implementation, Washington’s recreational cannabis law.  In 2013, based on her work in the marijuana industry, The Puget Sound Business Journal named Hilary one of seven Deal Makers of the Year and DOPE Magazine named her its Marijuana Industry Attorney of the Year in both 2013 and 2014.  In 2014, Hilary was named a “Rising Star” and a “Top Rising Star of Washington Women Attorneys” by Super Lawyers Magazine. Hilary sits on the board of the National Cannabis Industry Association and she frequently testifies before both state and federal government bodies regarding cannabis regulations.

Robert McVayprovides domestic and international clients with the business law advice they need to plan, protect, and expand their cannabis businesses.  He works closely with companies and entrepreneurs at every stage of development to assess their legal needs and to pursue their long-term goals.  Robert has assisted countless clients with corporate formation, complex corporate transactions, regulatory compliance, and intellectual property protection.  He is a frequent speaker and writer on the finance law side of the cannabis business.  Robert graduated, cum laude, from Georgetown Law, where he served as editor-in-chief of the Georgetown Journal of International Law.