Ballots coming on cannabis referendum

A Warm Springs delegation met earlier this month with BIA regional director Stanley Speaks, and deputy regional director Bodi Shaw.  From Warm Springs were Tribal Council and Ventures board members, and legal counsel.

The meeting focused on the legal aspects of the tribal cannabis proposal.

“The meeting gave the tribal delegation certainty that our process has support of the regional director and the deputy regional director,” said Pita Pitt, Ventures board member.

BIA Regional Director Speaks said, “We feel comfortable that the tribe is proceeding with an appropriate plan to develop this business.”

The tribes’ cooperation with the state of Oregon and the U.S. Attorney’s Office is a key reason why the BIA is supportive, Mr. Speaks said.

Tribal officials are planning to meet again with the U.S. Attorney’s Office again shortly after the referendum, if the vote is in favor, said Pita Pitt.

The referendum asks the membership whether Tribal Council should be authorized to “allow, regulate and operate an on-reservation, tribally owned cannabis cultivation and extraction facility, with retail sales allowed only off the reservation.”

Eighty-five new jobs, and annual revenue of more than $27 million revenue are the reasons why Tribal Council and Ventures are making the proposal.

If the referendum were the pass. there are some important aspects that would have to be worked out.

The tribes, for instance, would work with the state toward an agreement for the operation. Involvement of federal law enforcement would be another vital aspect. The location of the grow facility is another matter yet to be determined.

The Warm Springs Post Office is in receipt of completed absentee ballots for the referendum. These ballots are being kept in a secured ballot box in the Warm Springs Post Office.

Election officials will retrieve the box at the end of the business day on the date of the election, next Thursday, Dec. 17.

The post office had received between 50 and 100 ballots as of Tuesday morning of this week, said Karla Hawes, Warm Springs Post Master.

A voter response of at least one-third is required for a valid referendum. As there are about 3,300 eligible voters, the response must reach 1,100 for a valid election.