Warm Springs Ventures board and management met in February with the U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon, Billy Williams, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Simmons, who deals with Native policy matters.
“We presented our project overview, and an outline of the regulatory process for the reservation,” said Don Sampson, Ventures chief executive officer. “They were pleased with what we presented. It was a good meeting, and we intend to continue working closely with them as we move forward.”
Another recent development in the tribal cannabis production project: Ventures made a request to the tribes’ Business Investment Revolving Fund (BIRF) for funding to construct the greenhouse.
The request is for $1.8 million. The BIRF committee supports the loan, which will have to be approved by Tribal Council.
Meanwhile, Ventures has identified a preferred site for the construction of the greenhouse. The location is in the Lower Dry Creek area, past the landfill on the way to the water treatment plant.
The construction work will include a concrete pad, with the greenhouse—offices and the growing space—on the pad.
Ventures has identified a company to construct the greenhouse building.
The structure will have metal walls, surrounded by fencing, with security cameras inside and outside. The security aspect of the operation is much like the security at Indian Head Casino, Mr. Sampson said.
Part of the growing operation will involve the extraction of oil from the cannabis buds. This adds value to the product, creating a higher profit margin, Sampson said. Most of the product will be in the form of the buds, he said.
Construction of the greenhouse is planned to begin in April, with a completion time set for August. Warm Springs Construction, also part of Ventures, will be the general contractor for the work.
The cannabis operation will employ up to 85 employees, with 55 working at the greenhouse. Ventures is planning a job fair in June or July, to begin recruiting employees.
Ventures is also finalizing an agreement with Strainwise, based in Colorado, that will work in partnership with the tribes in creating a successful grow operation.
Strainwise will work with the tribes in setting up the retail outlet stores, in Portland and Bend, and in constructing and then operating the greenhouse. Strainwise has expertise in cannabis growing and retail.
The company will provide training to tribal members who want to work at the greenhouse, or in one of the retail outlets. The training will be in Warm Springs, and at the Strainwise operation in Colorado.
Strainwise currently manages growing operations totaling 130,000 Square feet. The Confederated Tribes are planning a facility about 36,000-square-feet. Strainwise operates 12 retail stores, while the tribes are planning to have three.
It is possible that the tribes may open one of more of the retail shops before the cultivation aspect of the business is in full operation, Mr. Sampson said.
This will give the tribes a chance to develop their marketing brand this year, Mr. Sampson said. This would also create job opportunities at the shops.
Upcoming projects for Ventures and Tribal Council will be the creation of a cannabis commission, and then a compact with the state of Oregon. These will ensure that the operation is carried out in compliance with all laws and regulations, Mr. Sampson said.
House bill 4014
The Oregon House on Monday took up House Bill 4014, part of which addresses the tribes’ ability to sell cannabis off the reservation.
Adoption of the bill would clarify the tribes are not precluded from the statewide market, and can therefore enter an agreement with the state.
House bill 4014 is bi-partisan legislation, with support from Sen. Ted Ferrioli, R-John Day, of Oregon’s District 30. With passage in the House, the bill goes to the state Senate, and then to Gov. Kate Brown.