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.