California | Opinion
Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel turns casino site into marijuana farm



The former Santa Ysabel Resort and Casino in California is now being used to grow marijuana. Photo: Michael A.

Gaming didn't turn out to be so good for the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel so the tribe has turned its former casino into a marijuana farm.

The operation started 18 months ago and marijuana is being shipped to marijuana dispensaries around California, The San Diego Union-Tribune. An official described the farm as small.

“It’s two grow rooms, less than 1,000 plants. Mostly it’s still empty space. It’s still in development,” Dave Vialpando, whose official title on is chairman at Santa Ysabel Tribal Gaming Commission despite the tribe's lack of a casino, told the paper.

Federal authorities warned the tribe that the marijuana farm is illegal, the paper reported. But unlike others in California, no one has raided the operation.

The Santa Ysabel Resort and Casino closed in February 2014, The Union-Tribune reported at the time. It was open for a little under 7 years.

The tribe subsequently tried to enter the online gaming industry but was unsuccessful. Officials turned to marijuana after the Obama administration issued a policy that appeared to recognize situations in which the plant could be grown in Indian Country in a manner similar to states.

The Trump administration is taking a different approach, with Attorney General Pete Sessions, the new head of the Department of Justice, stating his opposition to legal marijuana. The drug remains illegal under federal law.

Read More on the Story:
Gaming gone bust, tribe turns to marijuana farming (The San Diego Union-Tribune 5/2)

Department of Justice Document:
Policy Statement Regarding Marijuana Issues in Indian Country (October 2014)