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Las Vegas Paiute Tribe plans to enter medical marijuana industry

The administrative building of the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo from LVPT

The Las Vegas Paiute Tribe of Nevada is joining the medical marijuana industry.

The tribe broke ground on a medical dispensary on its reservation in downtown Las Vegas and a separate facility on its reservation northwest of the city. The $5 million project will be completed within six to nine months, Chairman Benny Tso said.

"We met with experts in the field, toured several facilities throughout our region, consulted legal authorities and talked with local government officials to get feedback, advice and information," Tso said in a press release. "After that due diligence, we brought the information back to our membership who overwhelmingly voted to move forward."

The facility in Las Vegas will be located on Main Street. It includes a 4,000-square-foot retail dispensary and a 1,160-square-foot exhibition space.

The facility on the tribe's other reservation includes three cultivation greenhouses totaling 84,000 square-feet. There will also be a 10,000-square-foot production center and a 3,024-square-foot dispensary.

"We are proud of our heritage as the original caretakers of this land, and this project fits precisely within our own cultural background," said Tso. "It is about caring for the earth, caring for our people and our neighbors, and creating long-term sustainability. As a nation, it's what we stand for."

Tribes across the nation have been interested in getting into the marijuana industry. A Department of Justice policy -- known as the 2014 Wilkinson memo -- seemingly opened the door to such ventures in Indian Country.

But many remain wary because tribes in California and Wisconsin have been raided by state and federal authorities. Another tribe in South Dakota burned all of its marijuana crops out of fear of some sort of enforcement action.

So far, only two tribes in Washington have successfully entered the industry and more in the state are poised to do the same. Marijuana is legal there for medicinal and recreational use.

In Nevada, medical marijuana dispensaries are legal for certified patients.

The tribe is working with Ultra Health, an Arizona-based company, on the project.

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

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