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South Dakota Expected to Bring Felony Charges Against Cannabis Consultant

August 2, 2016

Cannabis activists in South Dakota are expecting the state’s attorney general, Marty Jackley, to announce felony charges against Eric Hagen, CEO of Denver-based Monarch America, at a news conference in Flandreau tomorrow morning.

Jackley’s office has issued a statement saying only that he’ll address “subject of statewide interest” at the Moody County Courthouse on Wednesday at 9 a.m. local time. 

Hagen and Monarch Consulting worked closely with the Flandreau Santee Sioux tribe last year as it prepared to open South Dakota’s first cannabis-friendly resort. State authorities have no jurisdiction on tribal land, so the Flandreau Santee Sioux were proceeding in accordance with the U.S. Department of Justice’s 2014 Wilkinson memo, which offers guidance for tribes working on cannabis projects in Indian country

After raising a cannabis crop on tribal land, the Flandreau Santee Sioux ultimately decided to scuttle the project over fears of a federal raid. The tribe burned the crop last November. (Read Leafly’s full report.) 

Report from the Front: The Trouble with Cannabis in Indian Country

Jackley, who made his name in South Dakota as a drug warrior, is known to be considering a run for governor in 2018. He’s unable to legally sanction any tribal member who worked on the cannabis project while on tribal land. It’s widely speculated that he may bring heavy conspiracy and possession charges against Hagen — who is not an enrolled member of the tribe — to bolster his own political reputation and to scare away other consultants who may consider working on tribal cannabis projects within the state. 

Hagen is originally from South Dakota and currently divides his time between that state and his home in Denver. 

 Court: Native American Church Not Excused From Cannabis Laws

Header image of South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley via AP