Harris Bricken

On October 28, 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.”

Indian tribal governments are now considering whether to legalize marijuana for medicinal, agricultural, or recreational use on par with state governments. Thirty-three states have legalized marijuana for medicinal use and another four have legalized it for anyone over age 21. Most widely observed, however, are the states of Colorado and Washington, which have fully legalized recreational marijuana use in accordance with elaborate regulatory schemes.

Social policy relating to substance abuse in Indian County has long embraced prohibition for non-prescription drug usage and, in some tribal jurisdictions, alcohol usage. The potential legalization of commercial marijuana cultivation, manufacturing, and distribution in Indian tribal jurisdictions raises complex legal questions as well as whether past social policies should be changed in light of rapidly evolving social policy toward marijuana usage in the United States.

To discuss, analyze, and educate stakeholders on these emerging issues for Indian tribes, Odawi Law, PLLC, and Harris Bricken, PLLC, through its Canna Law Group, are co-hosting the Tribal Marijuana Conference on February 27, 2015, from 8:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. at the Tulalip Resort Casino in Washington State.

The Tribal Marijuana Conference will appeal to a wide variety of individuals interested in understanding the legal and policy implication of marijuana legalization in Indian Country:

  • Tribal government officials interested in generating new government revenues and addressing substance abuse in their territories
  • Tribal business executives and Indian entrepreneurs looking to initiate new tribal businesses
  • Tribal health and social work professionals concerned with the social effects of legalization
  • Tribal law enforcement personnel with concerns about criminal law enforcement
  • Non-Indian owned marijuana businesses looking to expand into Indian Country
  • Ancillary service providers looking to work with tribes to establish marijuana businesses in Indian Country


About the Co-Sponsors


Odawi Law, PLLC:

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.

Harris Bricken, PLLC:

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 McVay provides 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.


Conference Agenda:


8:30 am:  Introduction and Opening Remarks: Marijuana, Tribal Sovereignty, and Finding the Best Path Forward for Indian Country


    • Robert Odawi Porter


9:00 am:  Federal Law and Policy Regulating Marijuana Possession and Use


    • Douglas A. Berman, Professor of Law, Ohio State University
    • Sal Mungia, Gordon Thomas Honeywell, Seattle, Washington


10:00 am:  State Laws Regulating Marijuana Possession and Usage

Full Legalization in Washington and Colorado:

1.     Current laws and regulations
2.     Tax structure
3.     Intersection with medical marijuana
4.     Regulatory and legislative updates
5.     Outlook for Oregon and Alaska 


    • Hilary Bricken, Harris Bricken, PLLC, Seattle, Washington.
    • Thomas Carr, Boulder City Attorney, Boulder, Colorado


11:00 am:  Medical Marijuana in Washington, Nevada, and California

1.     History of medical marijuana legislation
2.     Development of medical marijuana marketplace
3.     Current legal and regulatory issues with medical marijuana industry
4.     Proposed legislative fixes on the horizon


    • Sean O’Connor, Assistant Dean for Law, Business & Technology Initiatives, Professor of Law, University of Washington School of Law, Seattle, Washington.
    • Amanda Reiman, Manager, Marijuana Law and Policy at Drug Policy Alliance
    • Senator Tick Segerblom, Nevada Senate, District 3


12:30 pm:  Lunch and Keynote Speaker: “The Pros and Cons of Marijuana Legalization”


    • Mark Kleiman, Professor of Public Policy, Luskin School of Public Affairs, University of California Los Angeles
    • Jacob Sullum, Senior editor at Reason magazine and Reason.com and a nationally syndicated columnist


2:00 pm:  The Jurisdictional Analysis of Marijuana Regulation in Indian Country


    • Robert Odawi Porter


3:00 pm:  Break


3:15 pm: Social, Political, and Cultural Ramifications of Marijuana Legalization


    • Les Parks, Vice-Chairman of the Tulalip Tribes
    • Henry Cagey, Council Member and former Chairman of the Lummi Nation
    • Troy Eid, Chairman of the United States Indian Law and Order Commission and former U.S. Attorney for the State of Colorado 
    • Mark Cooke, Policy Counsel, ACLU of Washington, Seattle, Washington

4:15 pm:  Business Development Considerations

1.     Corporate structures
2.     Banking
3.     Federal and State Taxes
4.     Contracts
5.     Intellectual property protections


    • Robert McVay, Harris Bricken, PLLC, Seattle, Washington


5:15 pm: Concluding Remarks


    • Robert Odawi Porter

5:30 pm:  Reception

At the conclusion of the Conference, there will be a reception from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Tulalip Resort Casino.

Resort Accommodations:

The Tulalip Resort Casino has set aside a limited block of rooms for Conference attendees, for the nights of February 26th and 27th, at a discounted rate. To take advantage of this Conference discount, please contact the Resort directly via phone at 1-866-716-7162 on or before February 6, 2015, and mention you are attending the  “Tribal Marijuana Conference” for reservations.