Pubdate: Fri, 09 Jan 2015
Source: Press Democrat, The (Santa Rosa, CA)
Copyright: 2015 The Press Democrat
Author: Glenda Anderson


A Ukiah Indian rancheria will soon be the site of what is likely 
California's first tribe-sanctioned, large-scale indoor medical 
marijuana cultivation and distribution operation.

The 250-member Pinoleville Pomo Nation revealed Thursday it has 
entered into a contract with Colorado-based United Cannabis and 
Kansas-based FoxBarry Farms to grow thousands of marijuana plants on 
its 99-acre rancheria just north of Ukiah.

It's the first of three such operations planned in California by 
United Cannabis and FoxBarry, a sign that marijuana cultivation is 
making headway in its voyage from being an illegal backwoods venture 
to a mainstream business. The locations of the other two have yet to 
be revealed.

Construction on a 2.5-acre indoor marijuana-growing facility will 
begin within a month and operations are expected to be underway in 
February, according to a spokesman for the tribe.

"We are very excited about the relationship with United Cannabis and 
FoxBarry," said Michael Canales, president of the tribe's business board.

FoxBarry Farms, which also invests in and manages tribal casinos, 
will fund and operate the facility on the rancheria, Canales said. 
The tribe also owns 100 acres near Ukiah High School but only the 
rancheria is held in federal trust, which renders it largely free of 
local regulations. The tribe is seeking trust status for the 
additional 100 acres, Canales said. It also owns several acres on 
North State Street, north of Ukiah, where it is planning to build a casino.

No dispensary plans

FoxBarry's president, Barry Brautman, said he's not certain how many 
plants will be grown at the new cannabis facility but expects there 
to be "thousands" growing year-round.

"We're harvesting every day. Everything's on a big rotation," he said.

The marijuana grown on the rancheria will be distributed only to 
medical marijuana card-holding members and dispensaries, in keeping 
with state law, Brautman said.

"Our business model involves doing everything legally and by the 
book," he said.

There currently is no plan for a dispensary at the site, Brautman said.

The 110,000-square-foot facility will cost about $10 million to build 
and will employ 50 to 100 people, most of them local residents, he said.

"There are a lot of people who know what they're doing in this 
county" when it comes to marijuana cultivation, Brautman noted.

The workforce also will include security guards to patrol the fenced 
facility, Brautman said.

The Pinoleville facility will be growing award-winning, brand-name 
pot developed by United Cannabis, a marijuana research and 
development company, Brautman said.

"The vast research and science behind their development are what 
differentiate us from everyone else in this business," he said.

Deal been in works

United Cannabis and FoxBarry recently entered an agreement under 
which FoxBarry will exclusively distribute United Cannabis branded 
marijuana products in California, he said.

The partnership with the tribe follows a U.S. Department of Justice 
announcement last month that tribes - which are sovereign nations - 
have the authority to legalize marijuana on lands that are held for 
them in federal trust. But the deal has been in the works for much 
longer, about a year, Brautman said.

He said FoxBarry's attorneys already believed that tribes had the 
authority to set up such operations. The Justice Department's 
statement confirmed their opinions, he said.

"Those laws and interpretations are not new," Brautman said.

Ukiah Police Chief Chris Dewey said Thursday that he doesn't know any 
of the specifics of the project but has some concerns in general 
about marijuana-growing operations.

"My most important issue would be that we safeguard people. We've had 
a number of home-invasion robberies in our valley," he noted.

Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman could not be reached Thursday for comment.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom