- Oct 2010
More: Warm Springs Tribe Hopes Its Cannabis Company Brings Jobs, Not a Federal Crackdown - Willamette WeekWarm Springs Tribe Hopes Its Cannabis Company Brings Jobs, Not a Federal Crackdown
Devontre Thomas' marijuana-possession case includes a twist: The very tribe he is a member of is poised to become one of the first in the nation to successfully dive into the legal cannabis business.
The Warm Springs tribe hopes to open a 36,000-square-foot cannabis cultivation, extraction and wholesaling facility on reservation land in the next year—a project approved by a majority vote of tribal members and coordinated with Gov. Kate Brown's office.
The Warm Springs tribe believes getting into the pot business will bring jobs to an area that badly needs them.
"When's the last time you've even seen an emerging market? Shellfish? Timber?" asks Pi-Ta Pitt, cannabis project coordinator for Warm Springs. "We've never really seen something come out of the dark like this. We have the opportunity to create sustainable jobs without a lot of environmental impact.
"When you're looking at the poverty levels and unemployment levels that we have? Heck, yeah."
Don Sampson, CEO of Warm Springs Ventures, says in addition to jobs in cultivation on the reservation, the tribe plans to open three dispensaries—in Portland, Eugene and Salem—to sell the product.
Pot possession is illegal on federal property, and it's also illegal for Warm Springs tribal members of any age to have weed on the reservation.
...In 2014, the Department of Justice issued the "Wilkinson Memo," which explained how sovereign Indian nations would be treated the same as states if they chose to legalize marijuana.
Since then, several tribes nationwide have attempted to get into the cannabis business, only to have their efforts unraveled by the feds.