If American Indian tribes decide they want to grow and smoke and sell weed on their land, the U.S. Department of Justice said yesterday, then so be it.

As of this week, the DOJ is instructing U.S. attorneys not to prosecute the 566 federally recognized tribes for pot offenses, as long as they are following the same federal guidelines established for states like Washington and Colorado, where weed is legal. The amnesty applies even to Native American land in states where weed remains illegal.

The news, besides being a boon to Native Americans who enjoy a toke, could provide tribes with an economic boost, the way that casinos and tobacco sales have in the past. However, the Associated Press and Los Angeles Times report, several tribes are strongly opposed to the idea. From the AP:

Seattle attorney Anthony Broadman, whose firm represents tribal governments throughout the West, said the economic potential is vast. "If tribes can balance all the potential social issues, it could be a really huge opportunity," Broadman said.

But many in Indian Country are wary of compounding existing drug and alcohol problems by growing and selling pot.

The Yakama Nation in weed-legal Washington is one such tribe, having recently banned possession of the plant on its land, the AP notes. According to U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall, three tribes—in Washington, California, and "the midwest,"—have expressed interest in establishing a cannabis market.

[Photo: Dave H/Flickr]