Uh oh—Indians making money:
Ten months after opening Native Nations Cannabis, the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe is expanding its medical marijuana operations with two new grow facilities to keep up with explosive demand.
“It’s been amazing, and that might actually be downplaying it,” said David Kills-A-Hundred, a tribal member and public relations and communications specialist for the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe. “The profit from the first year alone — and we haven’t even gotten to the first year — is substantial.”
Between the dispensary and growing facility, the Flandreau, S.D.-based Native Nations Cannabis employs 50 people. The tribe expects the first of the two new grow facilities to open this summer, with the other following soon after.
…“We have been able to increase the living standards for every tribal member that we have on the reservation,” he told Tribal Business News [Elyse Wild, “After ‘Amazing’ 10 Months, Flandreau Santee Sioux Plans to Expand Cannabis Operations,” Tribal Business News, 2022.05.16].
Medical marijuana makes money, creates jobs, and boosts standards of living? Boy, that sounds like the kind of Next Big Thing Kristi Noem said she was looking for three years ago. If the Flandreau Santee Sioux have figured out how to cash in on medical marijuana, surely the state is working to follow suit, right?
To put the success of the tribe’s venture in context, 52 state-licensed dispensaries operate in the state and serve fewer than 425 registered patients in the state’s medical cannabis program, according to data from the South Dakota Health Department.
However, Native Nations Cannabis serves around 10,500 tribally registered patients as of this writing [Wild, 2022.05.16].
Update Wild’s figures: the Department of health currently lists 56 state-certified dispensaries ready to serve 768 state-approved patients… 7% of the market that the tribe has been able to approve and serve.
In addition to the two new growing facilities, the tribe has bought the empty 71,000-square-foot Shopko in Mitchell to grow even more medical marijuana, not to mention some jobs for Mitchell:
The building had been vacant for some time, said Mitchell Mayor Bob Everson, adding he welcomed the new business venture. The tribe estimates the growth operation planned for the Shopko site could generate up to 70 jobs. “We’d like to see that,” said Everson [Stewart Huntington, “Tribe Takes the Lead in Marijuana Industry,” Indian Country Today, 2022.03.21].
Maybe the Flandreau Santee Sioux should get together with the other tribes, form a new political party, and nominate a tribal candidate for Governor, and pour some of their medical marijuana profits into the campaign. The tribe certainly seems to be better at economic development than our current Governor.