Warm Springs tribal members voted back in December to approve the cultivation, production and sale of medical and recreational marijuana.
“The Warm Springs Tribe is doing something that is not only historic for them but it’s historic for all Indian country this will be the first tribally owned fully vertical integrated operation,” said Chris Hardiman CEO, Sentinel Strainwise.
Earlier this month, the tribe announced the permanent closure of the Warm Springs Forest Products Industries Lumber Mill, costing dozens of jobs.
Tribal leaders say over 85 jobs are expected from the cultivation facility along with three retail stores. It’s expected to generate about $11 million annually for the tribe, ten percent of that money will go to public health.
Pi-Ta Pitt, Cannabis Project Development Coordinator, said, “This is what we’ve been looking for. We’ve been looking for a kick start, we’ve tried other paths but we haven’t been successful. This may be a successful path.”
Pitt says the project will help diversify the tribal economy. He says the spot where the greenhouse will go is the perfect location, “We needed access to three phase power as well as to high speed internet and water and land so this is one of the places that came attractive early on.”
The tribe is partnering with Sentinel Strainwise, a company out of Denver, Colorado to provide training for the workers.
The operation is fully tribally owned and at some point will be fully tribally operated according to Chris Hardiman. He says the Warm Springs Tribe is creating a model for other tribes around the nation when it comes to the cannabis industry. “Their working hard to establish a model that the rest of the Indian country can follow who want to participate in this industry.”
Construction on the greenhouse is expected to be completed by this fall.