Pubdate: Thu, 04 Jun 2015
Source: Press Democrat, The (Santa Rosa, CA)
Copyright: 2015 The Press Democrat
Author: Glenda Anderson


Construction apparently is underway for a medical marijuana farm on 
tribal land just north of Ukiah.

Rows of huge bag-like containers typically used to cultivate pot 
plants above ground, pallets of potting soil, large water storage 
tanks and solar panels have cropped up on the northeast corner of the 
Pinoleville Pomo Nation's rancheria, adjacent to Highway 101.

The area - bordered by the highway, a vineyard and rancheria housing 
- - has been leveled by earth-moving machines and partially surrounded 
by a chain link fence. But there's no sign yet of the greenhouse that 
was originally proposed.

Representatives of the 250-member Pinoleville tribe and its 
Kansas-based partners this week declined to comment on the work now 
underway but said they plan to release information about their 
pot-production plans within a week.

"At this time, I don't have any comment," said Barry Brautman, 
president of FoxBarry Farms, the financial backer for what originally 
was to be a 2.5-acre medical cannabis cultivation operation on the 
99-acre rancheria. FoxBarry also invests in and manages tribal casinos.

As originally planned, FoxBarry would build a $10 million greenhouse 
operation where it would produce thousands of plants year round with 
the help of Colorado-based United Cannabis, Brautman said in a 
January interview.

It was expected to become the first large-scale, tribal-sanctioned 
cannabis-growing operation in the country. But not for long. FoxBarry 
also plans at least two others elsewhere in California, Brautman said 
in January. He would not reveal where.

The work currently underway appears to be smaller than initially 
planned and there are no signs yet of the planned 110,000-square-foot 

It also comes months later than originally scheduled, possibly due to 
doubts raised about whether it's legal.

Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman has said the legality of such a 
large-scale proposal was questionable, even though the tribe is 
considered a sovereign nation.

In response to interview requests about the project on Wednesday, 
Allman issued a written statement, revealing that he'd met with a 
tribal representative earlier in the day.

"Due to conflicting interpretations of state and local marijuana 
laws/ordinances relating to Tribal lands, no agreement was reached as 
to the legal operation of the marijuana cultivation," the release states.

"It is the intent of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office to fairly 
and equally enforce the law throughout Mendocino County. If a 
violation of state or local law is observed in Mendocino County, the 
appropriate law enforcement action will be taken," he wrote, adding 
that he has the authority to enforce criminal laws on Indian lands.

Brautman has said he believes the tribes do have the authority to run 
operations like his on land held in trust by the federal government. 
It will be a nonprofit and its marijuana will be distributed only to 
legitimate dispensaries, he said. Allman said the tribe also plans to 
build a dispensary on the rancheria.

In a memorandum produced at the request of tribes seeking 
clarification on the marijuana issue, the U.S. Department of Justice 
has essentially said it's up to tribes, as sovereign nations, to 
decide whether marijuana is legal or not on their lands.

But the memorandum also states there's nothing preventing U.S. 
authorities from enforcing federal law in "Indian Country."

In recent years, federal agencies have cracked down on large-scale 
pot production operations in the Bay Area and elsewhere. The agency 
has not taken a public stand on the Pinoleville tribe's plans.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom