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Politics

Voters Approve Recreational, Medicinal Marijuana In OST Referendum

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Unofficial results from the Oglala Sioux Tribe show voters in the Pine Ridge Reservation approving medicinal and recreational marijuana.

In the same referendum, voters rejected allowing alcohol sale in casinos.

Preliminary totals show 82 percent of voters approving medical marijuana and 74 percent approving of recreational marijuana. The results will get certified by the end of the month. The tribal council is expected to enact laws regulating the plant around the same time.

Chase Iron Eyes is a spokesperson for Oglala Sioux Tribal President Julian Bear Runner.

Iron Eyes says the vote is akin to an earthquake.

“This isn’t about people getting high. It’s not about hippies smoking dope,” Iron Eyes says. “This is about a people’s right to live in dignity. A dignity that oppressing forces have stripped and have held our people in bondage legally, politically and economically.”

According to state Department of Corrections data, Native Americans make up 35 percent of the state’s prison population. About 32 percent of all prisoners are locked up for non-violent crimes. The US Census estimates Native Americans make up nine percent of South Dakota’s population.

Iron Eyes says the tribe has established informal contact with state and federal officials.

Both the South Dakota governor’s office and attorney general’s office have not returned requests for comment. The South Dakota US Attorney has also not returned requests for comment.