Warm Springs Tribes schedule referendum on legal marijuana

A cannabis plant. Photo from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via Wikipedia

The Warm Springs Tribes of Oregon might be joining the marijuana industry.

Tribal members will vote on December 17 in a referendum that authorizes a commercial production facility. Sales would only occur off the reservation and marijuana would remain illegal under tribal law.

“We think this is a great opportunity for the tribes,” Don Sampson, the executive director of Warm Springs Ventures, the tribe's economic arm, told The Bend Bulletin. “Obviously we’re proceeding with all due diligence. We’ve studied this for the past 10 months and think our proposal will be a model for other tribes to follow.”

Warm Springs Ventures estimates $11.7 million in net profit in the first year of operation and $26.1 million in the second, KWSO reported. Over seven years, the tribe could see $173 million.

Marijuana is legal in Oregon for recreational use. But it's still illegal to grow, sell or distribute under federal law.

A Department of Justice policy -- known as the 2014 Wilkinson memo -- seemingly opened the door to legal marijuana in Indian Country but so far four tribes in California and Wisconsin have been raided by state and federal authorities. A fifth in South Dakota suspended operations out of fear of a raid.

Only the Squaxin Island Tribe in Washington has successfully entered the marijuana industry so far.

Get the Story:
Pot business interests tribes (The Bend Bulletin 11/17)
December referendum on cannabis project (KWSO 11/5)

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