South Dakota: Nation’s First Marijuana Resort To Open in South Dakota

Tami Benedict - Author

Sep. 29 2015, Updated 11:35 a.m. ET

The Santee Sioux tribe will be opening the nation’s first marijuana resort on its reservation. The tribe already owns a successful casino, a 12-room hotel, and a 240-head buffalo ranch on their plains in South Dakota but decided to dip their feet into a new venture.

The Santee Sioux leaders plan on growing their own pot and selling it in a smoking lounge, which will include a nightclub, arcade games, and a bar and food service. The tribe eventually plans to add slot machines and an outdoor music venue, according to CBS News.

Tribal President Anthony Reider said, “We want it to be an adult playground. There’s nowhere else in America that has something like this.”

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The tribe is guessing that the South Dakota marijuana resort could bring in around $2 million a month in profit, and the tribe has already broken ground on the facility. The tribe is estimating sales to begin on December 21 at a New Year’s Eve party they will be hosting.

In June, the Santee Sioux were able to legalize marijuana on their lands after the Justice Department outlined a new policy that allowed Indian tribes to grow and sell marijuana under the same conditions as some states.

Blake Trueblood, the business development director at the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development, said, “The vast majority of tribes have little to no economic opportunity. This is something that you might look at and say ‘We’ve got to do something.'”

Currently, the tribe is working on 30 different strains of marijuana, including “Gorilla Glue,” “Shot Glass,” and “Big Blue Cheese.” The tribe has also hired Denver-based consulting firm Monarch America to teach them the basics of how to grow and handle the plant. The warehouse will be toured in mid-October by tribal leaders from across the county and South Dakota legislators.

Jonathan Hunt, Monarch’s vice president and chief grower, said that they want to show the state how clean, efficient, proficient, safe, and secure this is as an operation.

“This is not a fly-by-night operation. We are not looking to do anything shady,” Hunt explained.

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This is the first marijuana resort in the United States to open to the public, according to Fox News. States like Colorado and Washington, where marijuana is legal, have laws set in place the prohibit marijuana being smoked in public, although there are a handful of marijuana clubs in Colorado.

The Santee Sioux tribe says they want to make money off the marijuana for community service and to provide a monthly income to tribal members. Currently, the tribe’s existing businesses support family homes, a senior living community, a clinic, and a community center that offers after-school programs. Reider wants the marijuana profits to fund more houses, an addiction treatment center, and for an overhaul of the clinic, while other members of the tribe want to profit to go to a 24/7 day care center for casino workers.

But with all the good comes the bad and the tribes have to follow a strict security measure while planning for this resort. The marijuana cannot leave the reservation, and every plant must have a bar code. After being harvested and processed, the tribe is allowed to sell the marijuana in a sealed one gram package for $12.50 to $15, and consumers are only allowed to buy one gram, which is enough for two to four joints, at a time.

Other tribes are taking after the Santee Sioux as well. The Passamaquoddy Tribe in Maine signed a letter of intent for industrial hemp and the Suquamish Tribe in Washington signed a 10-year agreement that will govern the production, processing, and sale of pot on the tribe’s land.

[Image by Bruce Bennett/ Getty Images]


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