Pubdate: Wed, 30 Sep 2015
Source: Denver Post (CO)
Copyright: 2015 The Associated Press
Author: Regina Garcia Cano, The Associated Press


The Santee Sioux bring in a Denver pot consulting company to help 
grow "an adult playground."

Flandreau, S.D. (AP) - The Santee Sioux tribe has proven its business 
acumen, running a casino, a 120-room hotel and a 240-head buffalo 
ranch on the plains of South Dakota.

Now the small tribe of 400 is undertaking a new venture - opening the 
nation's first marijuana resort on its reservation.

The experiment could offer a moneymaking model for other tribes 
seeking economic opportunities beyond casinos.

Santee Sioux leaders plan to grow the pot and sell it in a smoking 
lounge that includes a nightclub, arcade games, bar and food service 
and, eventually, slot machines and an outdoor music venue.

"We want it to be an adult playground," said tribal President Anthony 
Reider. "There's nowhere else in American that has something like this."

The project, according to the tribe, could generate a profit of up to 
$2 million a month, and work is underway on a growing facility. The 
first joints are expected to go on sale at a party on New Year's Eve.

The legalization of marijuana on the Santee Sioux land came in June, 
months after the Justice Department outlined a new policy that allows 
Indian tribes to grow and sell marijuana under the same conditions as 
some states.

A marijuana resort open to the public has never been tried in the 
U.S., even in states such as Colorado and Washington, where pot is legal.

Not everyone in Flandreau, about 45 miles north of Sioux Falls, near 
the South DakotaMinnesota state line, believes in the project. But 
the profit potential has attracted the interest of many other tribes, 
similar to the debut of slot machines and table games almost 27 years ago.

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

Flandreau's indoor marijuana farm is set against a backdrop of 
soybean fields. If not for a security booth outside, the building 
could pass as an industrial warehouse. Inside, men work to grow more 
than 30 strains, including those with names like "Gorilla Glue," 
"Shot Glass" and "Big Blue Cheese."

Pot is prone to mildew and mold, picky about temperature and pH level 
and intolerant to tap water. So the Santee Sioux have hired 
Denver-based consulting firm Monarch America to teach them the basics.

Tribal leaders from across the country and South Dakota legislators 
will tour the Flandreau facility in mid-October.

"This is not a fly-by-night operation," said Jonathan Hunt, Monarch's 
vice president and chief grower. Tribal leaders "want to show the 
state how clean, how efficient, how proficient, safe and secure this 
is as an operation."

Reider said he hopes marijuana profits can fund more housing, an 
addiction treatment center and an overhaul of the clinic. Some 
members want a 24 /7 day care center for casino workers.

The marijuana cannot leave the reservation, and every plant in 
Flandreau's growing facility will have a bar code. After being 
harvested and processed, it will be sold in sealed 1-gram packages 
for $12.50 to $15 - about the same price as the illegal market in 
Sioux Falls, according to law enforcement.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom