Posts in Business in Cannabis
Business of Cannabis: Weed on Trust & Tribal Land Pt 3

Since the Suquamish compact, Squaxin Island, Muckleshoot, and Puyallup have all entered compacts with the state of Washington to join in on the cannabis industry. Jamestown S’ Kallam, Spokane, Tulalip, Samish, and Stilaguamish are all negotiating their terms with legislation as we speak. Nearly all of these tribes that have entered a compact already have stated that they will be taking part in producing, processing and operating a retail store. However, Puyallup is on a different wave.

The Puyallup tribe, located near Fife, is making the most of their opportunity in the marijuana industry by sticking to their ancestral roots and exploring the medical side of the industry. The tribe opened Medicine Creek Analytics, named after the 1854 Medicine Creek Treaty, a treaty between them, Nisqually, four other tribes in the area, and the territory of Washington, which refers to where their reservations would be. Medicine Creek Analytics is a full-service lab that is paired with the tribe’s oncology research and medical center. The tribe has expressed that their goal is to explore the ways of natural medicine as a cancer treatment, because their tribe has a long-running history with the disease due to repercussions of the Tacoma Port that literally was placed in their backyard.

The lab will not only be advancing studies in cancer research, but also in the research of Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, and other neurological disorders. As well as being a full testing facility for tribal grow operations and products, they also serve regular i502 non-Native businesses. The lab prides themselves on the honesty and purity of the facility, noting that many of the labs in Washington state are now under investigation as to whether their test results are truly legitimate. Their mission is to make a difference in the medical and regulation world. This is something that could put the tribe on a national level as the leader in cannabis research within the USA.

Just because the Suquamish tribe was the first to develop a compact for sale, and the Puyallup tribe is conducting every form of cannabis business known to legalized states, doesn’t mean that their compacts will work for others. Each individual tribe will tailor their compact with legislation the way that makes the most sense for them. The tribes Ely Shore and Yerington in Nevada have both recently broken ground for retail facilities and grow operations. Nevada has 14 tribes and over 40,000 registered tribal members (this is huge), so cannabis stands to be a very profitable opportunity, with possibility to create a much needed stimulus in communities within Nevada other than Las Vegas.


Another tribe closer to home is the confederation of Warm Springs in Oregon. Warm Springs will not only have a grow operation for retail, wholesale, and distribution for recreational marijuana, but they will also cultivate just the female plant, or hemp, for fiber uses in the hopes to create a more sustainable future for themselves and the country. The opportunity that this tribe has on their hands is undeniably brilliant. Imagine a hub for stainable products made from hemp here in the USA—amazing.

A nation of people has for hundreds of years been limited in making any form of real
capital, being confined to the sale of tobacco and revenue from casinos, if they were so lucky to find the means to build and open one. Tribal members are not the only ones who see that the cannabis industry is a lucrative opportunity to generate millions of dollars—outside companies from other states are also taking note. A lot of outside marketing and consulting firms have reached out to the tribes with the hope that they are hired to consult them on how to cultivate, sell, train employees, and run an overall campaign for the public. And just how trustworthy are these people when a lot of them have been rumored to be out for the money with no real background in cannabis?

The two consultants that represented the Sioux Tribe in South Dakota are actually up for trial as they were said to be “in conspiracy to cultivate and sell over 10 pounds of marijuana with the intent to sell.” Granted, we know how that story played out, and until August 2016 the two men were expected to go to federal prison, but were ultimately acquitted of all charges. The two men were affiliated with Cannabis Consultant based in Denver, Colorado, but they are just some of many to hit the scene. Sentinal-Strainwise is a consulting firm based out of Florida, where medical marijuana is legal as of 2017 elections. The company has been named as the official consulting firm that will oversee leading Warm Springs, Oregon with their economic development plan. Typically, most tribes will hire other tribal members with the right resources and skills to operate a tribal business, to promote a stronger community.

For instance, there is a group of Natives reigning from North Carolina that are founders of the National Indian Cannabis Coalition, which states that “The mission of NICC is to provide education and guidance in collaboration with tribal leaders, industry professionals, and elected officials relative to the emerging regulated cannabis industry, while advocating for parity on behalf of Indian Country.” The group consists of a lawyer, a psychologist, and a social worker. The three are Native Americans that advocate on the behalf of Native Americans, and fellow tribes value that. So how will this all play out? The tribes that have so fearlessly navigated to the best of their ability in this industry are projected to make over 2 million a month, yes a month! I do believe that this is an industry that fellow Native Americans need so badly to be a part of. Where big money corporations have no involvement, revenue is recycled through immediate communities, and the possibilities are endless as to how truly impactful they can be in an industry that is soon to go nationwide. The sky is the limit.

Weed on Tribal & Trust Land Pt 1
Weed on Tribal & Trust Land Pt 2

~$toney Spice ~

Business in Cannabis: Weed on Tribal & Trust Land Pt. 2

Enter the Wilkinson Memorandum. This memo gave reassurance that the federated tribes within the U.S. will be held at the same standard as the state and local government, referring to James Cole’s original eight points of contingency (see part one). However, there’s a catch (isn’t there always?). That catch is Public Law 280. Public Law 280 articulates that the state can have governance over a tribe that is within the said states’ boundaries and if that state has not legalized the plant, then the tribe that has, is subject to state officials stepping in. Sad news for any tribe outside of the seven states that are fully legal, but if the tribe falls within a state that has legalized medical, then the tribe is free to explore the medical industry.

The aftermath of both the Cole and Wilkinson Memos has now encouraged many tribes to join in on the Green Rush, but what have they learned and observed from other tribes that have tried to move forward with cannabis business? One key aspect would be that the tribe must legalize the plant and decriminalize the procession, cultivation, and sales of it. This all requires a deep and detailed business plan that they will have to present to the state in which they reside.

Being that tribes are sovereign nations, they are not held to the same standards as regular i502 stores owned and operated by non-Natives. The tribe can sell, cultivate, process, conduct medical research, prescribe medical marijuana, conduct lab testing, and collect the tax revenue. This is unheard of in the regular i502 market! To make this happen, the tribes must enter what is called a compact, a declaration between the two parties with a clear plan of action and, more importantly, how the tribe will regulate the substance and report revenue with the state legislature. Make note that a compact is not required, but should be done to stay in good standing with the state and federal government.

The first known tribe to enter a compact was the Suquamish Tribe in Washington state. The tribe first legalized cannabis in 2015 and in 2016 entered a compact with the state legislature to begin the ground-breaking of a retail store. This store is now open, and they have a fully functional grow operation. The compact does not limit the tribe to own and operate one store or grow even though the tribe only mentioned one location in the compact. They can legally open as many as they want (which non-Native owners cannot), including the opportunity for any tribal member to open a small business pertaining to the substance. Though they must inform the Liquor Control Board (LCB) in order to do so.

Suquamish is also free to sell their native-made products to non-native businesses and non-
native businesses can sell their products to native businesses. The tribe will be held to the same standard of having frequent LCB inspections, along with charging consumers the same excise tax of 37% to avoid price wars against the state. The compact is good for 10 years (unless the federal government reschedules the plant, then the compact between the state and Suquamish will be up for immediate renegotiation).


The biggest incentive as seen by the tribes collectively, has been that they get to keep the excise tax. The same goes for casinos and the sale of tobacco and gasoline. In the compact, the state made the point to say the tribe should “use the excise tax for the better of the tribe,” leaving the specific purpose of the revenue vague. Many tribes that have legalized have stated that their money generated will go to education, economic development, elder care, and tribal member disbursements. Excise tax exclusions are as follows if; the product was grown on tribal land, the buyer is otherwise exempt from federal tax, if it was prescribed medical marijuana, or the product was bought by: a tribal member, another tribe, or tribal enterprise.

Although Tribal Nations are not required to say where the tax revenue is going, as mentioned before, my personal hope is that the revenue will also go toward cannabis education for the youth and community as a whole. Have special workshops for parents on how to effectively talk to your family about drugs and the use of drugs (NOT JUST CANNABIS). Because many tribes have dealt with some sort of epidemic due to drug use within their communities, the ones who have legalized cannabis on trusted land now generate a great deal of money to help with the recovery process and rehab fees. be continued!

~$toney Spice~