Looking at economic aspect of cannabis

Warm Springs Ventures met with community members on two evenings last week to discuss the economic aspect of the legalization of cannabis in Oregon.

Ventures chief executive officer Don Sampson was the facilitator of the meetings. The goal of Ventures is to create jobs and generate revenue for the tribes. Cannabis can now be seen as a potential economic development opportunity, Sampson said.

Ventures’ initial research into this area, as approved by Tribal Council, shows an opportunity for significant revenue—more than $13 million net the first year—plus good-paying jobs in the greenhouse or greenhouses.

In summary, the Ventures proposal is:

To develop a tribally owned, operated, regulated and managed tribal cannabis cultivation and extraction facility—possibly producing medical or recreational cannabis, and hemp—on the reservation with retail sales off-reservation with three retail stores in the Portland/Bend market. “This would be accomplished in a highly regulated, safe and controlled environment,” the report says.

At the community meetings last week, Ventures gave a timeline of how the tribes have reached this point in the process. Ventures and Tribal Council initiated this project back in February.

At that time, Council approved the Cannabis Exploratory Team, a group looking at economic opportunities of the legalization of cannabis, and the legal aspects of cannabis on the reservation.

The team met with business and agriculture staff from Strainwise, based in Colorado. Strainwise is one of the largest legal marijuana cultivators and retailers in the country, with over 130,000 square feet of cultivation, and nine retail locations.

The Warm Springs team talked with a lending company that is interested in working with the tribes and Strainwise on a development project: “The model they propose is a wholly owned tribal corporation with minority representatives from (the lending party), and the establishment of a management agreement and revenue sharing agreement with (the lender).”

Ventures and the exploratory team met with federal and state officials regarding the legality of the idea. Some basic findings are that the tribes can legally own and operate a cannabis growing facility on the reservation, and have access to the same markets as off-reservation growers.

Ventures will present the information gathered at the community meetings to Tribal Council, and they will discuss what the next steps should be.