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Originally published Monday, July 11, 2011 at 5:30 PM

Resolution about legalizing pot was a gag, tribe says

Snoqualmie Tribal Chairwoman says the tribal council was just kidding when it passed a resolution declaring marijuana legal on the reservation on July 30, when Willie Nelson performs at its casino.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Just kidding, says Snoqualmie Tribal Chairwoman Shelley Burch.

The resolution passed and signed by the Snoqualmie Tribal Council declaring marijuana legal on the reservation July 30 was a gag.

The resolution was intended as a souvenir to frame and present to country singer Willie Nelson when he performs at the tribe's Snoqualmie Casino that day, and Burch said she doesn't know how it became public.

"It was just tongue in cheek at a council meeting; we know marijuana is illegal," Burch said. "It was a joke. We don't allow it and we don't back it. We passed it, but it was supposed to be just for him.

"We were cracking up, saying, what if we did a resolution because he is coming to the casino; that is how it came about."

The resolution passed 4-2 Thursday and was signed by Burch and Nina Repin, tribal secretary. Nothing on it indicates it is anything but an official tribal document.

The tribal grapevine was buzzing Monday as news of the resolution got out, with the resolution attached to emails with subject lines such as "Are they crazy?" and "Is this for real?"

No, says Burch, who adds that she loves Nelson but won't be at the concert. "It sold out as soon as the tickets were out."

Elaine Shock, Nelson's publicist, said the singer was on vacation and that she would not be contacting him for an interview.

Jon Jenkins, the new CEO for the casino, said he knew the resolution was a gag "as soon as I saw it."

Jenkins, 61, started at the casino about three months ago after signing a three-year contract with the tribe. He replaces Michael Barozzi, whom the tribe bought out from his contract in February for $14 million.

Burch wrote casino staff that the resolution "was in jest and only a lighthearted welcome for Mr. Nelson, nothing more. It was not by any means a public policy statement. It was and is just a gag."

Nelson once famously toked on the roof of the White House, and is perhaps the most famous public face of the marijuana-legalization movement. He is still fighting a misdemeanor drug charge in Texas connected with the discovery of a small amount of pot on his tour bus in March 2010.

Lynda V. Mapes: 206-464-2736 or lmapes@seattletimes.com

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