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Warm Springs tribes hope cannabis will kick-start economy, jobs


The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Warm Springs Ventures and business partner Sentinel Strainwise held a groundbreaking ceremony Friday for a 36,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art cannabis cultivation greenhouse.

“The Tribe is embarking on a new and exciting economic development opportunity in the cannabis industry in Oregon,” said Don Sampson, CEO of Warm Springs Ventures.

“The purpose of the project is to create jobs, produce revenue and diversify the tribal economy,” Sampson added. “Over 85 jobs are expected from the operation of the cultivation facility, along with three retail stores.”

The groundbreaking came less than three weeks after the tribes announced the permanent closure of the Warm Springs Forest Products Industries lumber mill, costing dozens of jobs.

Last December, Warm Springs tribal members voted overwhelmingly to pursue marijuana growing and sales at tribal-owned stores off the reservation. The move does not legalize the use or possession of marijuana on the reservation.

Sampson said the Warm Springs Tribe “is one of the first tribes in the nation to develop a vertically integrated cannabis business, including cultivation, processing, extraction, wholesale, and retail operations in medical and recreational cannabis.”

It’s expected to generate about $11 million annually for the tribe. Ten percent of that money will go to public health.

“This is what we’ve been looking for,” said Cannabis Project Development Coordinator Pi-Ta Pitt. “We’ve been looking for a kick-start. We’ve tried other paths, but we haven’t been successful. This may be a successful path.”

Sampson said, “The Tribe has worked over the past year with our tribal community, Sentinel Strainwise, the Governor for the State of Oregon’s office, the Attorney General, the State Legislature, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and many other partners in developing a highly regulated and compliant cannabis enterprise; we expect this will serve as a Tribal business and regulatory model nationwide.”

Sampson said the state-of-the-art greenhouse cultivation facility is due for completion this fall.

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