Native American tribe’s cannabis consultant to face trial

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — Roughly two years after an American Indian tribe began an ambitious push to open the nation’s first marijuana resort in South Dakota, a consultant who helped pursue the stalled venture is heading to trial on drug charges.

Jury selection starts Thursday in the case of Eric Hagen, a consultant who worked with the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe on its operation about 45 miles north of Sioux Falls. Hagen was indicted on state marijuana charges months after the tribe destroyed their crop amid fears of a federal raid.

Here’s a look at key information about the trial:


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Hagen and fellow consultant Jonathan Hunt, officials with Monarch America, a Colorado-based company in the marijuana industry, were charged last year after assisting the tribe.

The Santee Sioux began a marijuana growing operation after the Justice Department outlined a new policy clearing the way for Indian tribes to grow and sell marijuana under the same conditions as some states that have legalized pot.

State Attorney General Marty Jackley warned against the idea from the outset. The tribe ultimately destroyed its crop in November 2015 after federal officials signaled a potential raid.

Jackley announced charges against Hagen and Hunt about nine months later. Hagen, 34, of Sioux Falls, has pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to possess, possession and attempted possession of more than 10 pounds of marijuana.

He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison on both the conspiracy and possession counts and 7 1/2 years on the attempted possession count. Hunt last year pleaded guilty to a drug conspiracy count after agreeing to cooperate with law enforcement.

Court documents say Hunt ordered marijuana seeds from a company in the Netherlands that were shipped surreptitiously to the tribe’s office in 2015. Authorities say he and others cultivated the…

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