Yurok Tribe primary election Wednesday, medical marijuana among measures on the ballot

Five measures and three government positions are on the ballot for the 2018 Yurok Tribe election.

Oct. 10 is primary election day for the Yurok Tribe, and the following positions are on the ballot: Orick district representative, vice chairperson and chairperson.

Candidates for Orick district representatives include Wendy Lee Kull, Sherri Provolt and Laura White Woods. For vice chair, the candidates are Laura A. Borden, Jewel Frank, David L. Genshaw, Sr., Susan Masten, Jack Mattz, Frankie Joe Myers and Ryan Ray. For chairperson, the candidates are Lavina Brooks, James E. Dunlap, Joseph L. James and Emery W. Mattz, III.

Five ballot measures are also included in this election. The topics include: Blood degree amendment, relinquishment criteria amendment, election background check requirements, selling and leasing Yurok land and medical marijuana.

Referendum #1, the "blood degree amendment," concerns eligibility for Yurok Tribe membership based on fraction of Indian blood. A vote "Yes" would require applicants to possess at lesat 1/16 Yurok blood to be eligible and have a total blood degree equal to 1/8 or more total Indian blood. A vote "No" keeps the membership criteria unchanged, which requires a biological parent to be enrolled in the Yurok Tribe and have 1/8 degree Indian Blood, with no requirement for Yurok blood.

Referendum #2 would amend the limitation on membership to allow former members to qualify as members again only once. A "Yes" vote would mean a person who relinquishes membership in the Yurok Tribe may only return to membership once, and further application would be denied. There is currently no limit on the number of times a person may relinquish then return to Yurok membership.

Referendum #3 involves qualifications for tribal candidates. A "Yes" vote would mean candidates are forbidden from having been convicted of a list of serious offenses.

Referendum #4 aims to allow the selling and leasing of tribal land to tribal members for a period longer than 20 years without referendum vote.

Referendum #5 simply states, "Shall the Yurok Tribe allow medical marijuana use, not cultivation, on the reservation?" and the options are "Yes" or "No." This referendum would not have any immediate effect on the Constitution or laws of the Yurok Tribe. The Yurok Council is interested in hearing from members about their opinions on medical marijuana.

Some "pro" arguments to allowing medical marijuana that are presented on the ballot include the fact that substantial evidence suggests that cannabis treatment positively impacts chronic pain, nausea in chemotherapy and muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis. Also, legalizing medical cannabis provides an alternative to opioids for chronic pain relief."

Some "con" arguments include the fact that allowing medical marijuana may affect federal funding for the tribe, and the fact that "substantial evidence suggests that cannabis causes increased risk of schizophrenia and other psychoses, increased risk of youth addiction, respiratory illness, increased motor vehicle crashes and lower birth weight."

Polls are open until 7 p.m.

Polling locations include: Elk Valley Rancheria Community Center, Orick Community Center, Pecwan Fire Station, College of the Redwoods Klamath-Trinity site, Worthington Site, the Libby Nix Community Center and Yurok Administration Building in Klamath.

To view a sample ballot, click here.

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