Press release from the Pinoleville Pomo Nation:

On Tuesday, September 22, the Pinoleville Pomo Nation was presented with a search warrant by Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman.

The warrant contained four allegations that the Sheriff claimed gave him the right to exercise his authority on sovereign lands. Once allowed onto tribal lands, deputies seized and destroyed property that belonged to the tribe’s cannabis collective.

“We believe the Sheriff has overstepped his authority, violated tribal sovereignty, and acted outside of his legal jurisdiction,” says Angela James, Tribal Vice-Chair for the Pinoleville Pomo Nation. “Our cannabis collective is a lawfully organized, non-profit organization which is subject to tribal law.”

James states that the Mendocino County Sheriff justified his actions by invoking Public Law 83-280, adding that the tribe’s own ordinance references this law.

“Public Law 280 provides the ability for the state to enforce criminal laws within an Indian reservation. It states that an activity in question must be criminal in nature to invoke this law.”

“The law clearly states that any activity that the state regulates, such as the operation of cannabis collectives, does not fall under the Sheriff’s jurisdiction. Public Law 280 cannot be enforced in this instance because operating a regulated cannabis collective is not a criminal activity,” James continues.

“Our attorneys are solidly behind us in reiterating that cannabis is regulated by the State of California, and that Sheriff Allman made a grave mistake in invoking Public Law 83-280 to gain access to our tribal lands. We are not criminals. We are very confident that we can demonstrate that absolutely no criminal activity was taking place on our Indian Lands.”

“Our legal team created the guidelines for this collective using rules more restrictive than existing State and local cannabis laws — the very laws which are posted on the Sheriff’s own website,” James continues. “We feel strongly that we were not in violation of this or any other laws. We are prepared to do whatever is necessary to protect ourselves and have our property returned.”

Sheriff Allman was provided a copy of the tribe’s cannabis ordinances by Mike Canales, Pinoleville’s Business Board President. Numerous face-to-face meetings regarding the status of the project took place with the Sheriff over many months, according to Canales. The tribe’s 39-page cannabis ordinance governs safety, security, personnel, transportation, distribution and cultivation guidelines.

“From the earliest days, we reached out to the Sheriff’s office, listened to and acted upon his recommendations and made a point to publicize our project to the pubic. Despite our commitment to transparency and willingness to work together to assure the community of safety and legality, Sheriff Allman entered onto Pinoleville Pomo Nation’s Indian lands and destroyed property, causing severe economic hardship as well as incalculable damage to the tribe’s reputation and their relationships with project partners,” says Mike Canales.

“It is the Tribe’s intention to seek all legal remedies against the Mendocino County Sheriff’s office for publicly putting forth unproven allegations and flagrantly acting outside of its authority,” James said.

“Our project provided a solution to some the issues created by unethical cannabis operators who truly endanger our communities and the environment,” James continues.

“Why is the Sheriff using shrinking marijuana eradication resources to focus on a small, struggling Native American Tribe? When he authorized his deputies to cut down our garden and kill our medicinal plants, he shut down what was probably one of the safest, most highly regulated cannabis projects in the state, if not the country.”

“The Pinoleville Pomo Nation will stand up for ourselves, as we have done throughout history. We will not allow the Sheriff to subvert our sovereign rights. We have the right to produce and provide regulated, safe and standardized cannabis medicine to collective members. Though this is an unfortunate and shocking setback, this is not the end for us. We were prepared for this possibility, and we will continue to work toward our goal of creating an innovative industry model that supports our tribe, the cannabis community and the citizens and taxpayers of Mendocino County,” she concludes.