Warm Springs Tribes break ground on greenhouse to grow marijuana

The Warm Springs Tribes of Oregon broke ground on the marijuana production facility on April 29, 2016. Photo by Jayson Smith / Spilyay Tymoo

The Warm Springs Tribes of Oregon are entering the marijuana industry.

Tribal officials broke ground on a 36,000 square-foot greenhouse on April 29. They hope to start selling their own brand of marijuana in early 2017 and, eventually, open retail locations off the reservation.

"This is bigger than dollars and cents," Pi-Ta Pitt, a tribal member who spearheaded the project, told The Oregonian. "This isn't a quick fix. This is about a group of people trying to find a way for people to educate, clothe and house themselves."

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

A Department of Justice policy -- known as the 2014 Wilkinson memo -- seemingly opened the door to legal marijuana in Indian Country. Tribes in neighboring Washington have entered the industry without problems although others have faced legal hurdles and some have been raided by federal and local authorities.

The Warm Springs Tribes would be the first in Oregon to enter the industry. Stan Speaks, the regional director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, seemingly endorsed the project.

"They have been very careful and very cautious," Speaks told The Oregonian. "They are certainly going to be a model."

Get the Story:
Oregon tribe opens cannabis greenhouse (KTVZ 5/3)
Warm Springs tribe breaks ground on pot grow facility (AP 5/3)
Warms Springs tribes launch ambitious pot venture, hope for economic windfall (The Oregonian 4/29)
Warm Springs tribes hope cannabis will kick-start economy, jobs (KTVZ 4/29)
Groundbreaking Friday for greenhouse (Spilyay Tymoo 4/27)

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

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Warm Springs Tribes schedule referendum on legal marijuana (11/17)

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