The Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians has announced its opposition to the legalization of marijuana.

Executive Director Terri Parr Wynecoop said on Wednesday, February 26, that her organization has announced its partnership with the Smart Approaches to Marijuana project.

"We first became introduced to SAM vis members of a tribal community who were already working with them," Parr Wynecoop said. "SAM is a health-first organization with regards to marijuana policy that are in line with the stands that we take here at ATNI. Tribes all over the northwest are looking to provide a safe and healthy environment  for all of their members, especially their youth, and the element of legalized marijuana doesn't always provide for that."

Parr Wynecoop said that many of the tribes in Washington do not recognize the new open marijuana laws in their state.

"Although marijuana is legal in their state, many tribes in Washington have maintained that it will continue to be illegal within their jurisdictions," Parr Wynecoop said. "For those who are making safe and healthy communities a priority, that stand is being well received. From the broader perspective of illegal drug use, marijuana is a gateway drug, in that people who use harder drugs cite marijuana as their first drug. So, yes, it's already an issue with tribes in Washington."

The group represents tribes in Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Nevada, Alaska, Northern California and Montana. The Salish-Kootenai and the Crow tribes in Montana are affiliated with the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians.

Executive Director Terri Parr Wynecoop