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More Native American Tribes Invest In Cannabis

By Lynn Armitage

Another California tribe has announced its venture into the medical marijuana business. The Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians in Thermal, about 32 miles southeast of Palm Springs, recently entered into a partnership with Red Crow, a Native-owned cannabis company that designs, builds, manages and finances marijuana growing facilities for medical purposes.

Indian at sunset

We are an impoverished tribe with a small casino that is barely keeping its head above water. We don’t have the cash flow like other tribes that have found success,

Mary Belardo, executive assistant to the tribal chairwoman, explained the reason for striking the deal.

The whole concept has potential to be an economic boom for the tribe, if done properly.

While marijuana continues to be illegal at the federal level, 23 states—including California—have legalized it for medical use only, reports the Pew Research Center. According to statistics on the Red Crow website, the Golden State outshines all others in the legal cannabis market with copy.3 billion in sales, and the nearly 800-member Torres Martinez tribe is hoping to get a small piece of what is being touted as the fastest-growing industry in the United States.

Torres Martinez tribal members voted overwhelmingly (48 to 5) to move forward on the partnership with Red Crow. However, they still need tribal members to vote on the specific allocation of 47.2 acres of tribal land toward the growing and processing of organic medical cannabis. Red Crow said it will completely finance and manage the estimated copy2 million project, and in exchange, the tribe will own 51 percent of what is produced and sold to licensed medical dispensaries.

The tribe will operate its cannabis business under the aegis of the Sovereignty Medical Tribal Corporation, an entity the tribe founded back in 2004 when it was considering another medical-related partnership with a pharmaceutical company that Belardo said eventually fizzled.

Richard Tall Bear Westerman, the CEO of Red Crow, explained why he and his partner, Rick Hill, an Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin Native and former chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA), reached out to the Torres Martinez tribe in the first place: “They have a lot of land and they aren’t as successful as other California tribes. Because they are so poor, we think it is a great opportunity for them,” he said. “We want to work with tribes where we can make a real difference. It’s not just about cannabis, it’s about medicine, jobs and building communities.”

Read Full Article Posted 21/4/2015