Through Andrew Kennard
It all started at a meeting in Las Vegas, where a few tribes raised concerns about the management of the many operations related to entering the cannabis industry to CEOs of Violet Gro, Hyperponic and Sunflower Consulting Group.
“When we had the conversation with the tribes, their interest was in finding a partner, not just a supplier,” said Terrance Berland, Native Gro board member and Violet Gro CEO. Indigenous News Online. “And so the idea of actually being in the co-management space, working with them from start to finish from construction to actual operations was really important.”
Berland and Native Gro COO Ali McKenzie said the meeting sparked the creation of Native Gro, a new company that was officially formed on April 20 and debuted in Native American Conference on Cannabis and Hemp June 14, according to a Press release. Berland said Native Gro is based in Nevada and has been in talks with West Coast tribes.
“There are so many things to do”
Native Gro promotes itself as a “one-stop-shop” that combines the services of three companies to cover the three pillars of the cannabis trade. Violet Gro provides agricultural lighting systems for growing cannabis, Hyperponic provides vertical cultivation systems that manage the environment and plant food, and Sunflower consultation group helps tribes to develop convenience stores where the product will be sold. Berland said this three-pronged approach will reduce costs for Native Gro and the tribes she works with.
“When you’re going to build a building, you rarely hire the electrician and the plumber and the cement maker and everything in between,” Berland said, using an analogy to explain Native Gro’s business model. “What you do is hire a general contractor… It’s an entity that you have to deal with and you let them handle a myriad of parts. “
McKenzie told Native News Online that the company’s business model can adapt to meet the specific needs of large tribes who want to integrate a cannabis business into a casino or hotel and small tribes where a cannabis business. would occupy a large part of their budget. . Berland said the company’s partnerships with the tribes will be transparent and allow the tribes to reassert control over their activities in accordance with their wishes.
“I think the ‘Here’s our take it or leave it’ model (approach), which we’ve heard loud and clear, isn’t working,” Berland said. “If you have a tribe that has a lot of experience in convenience trade, for example, and just wants to add a dispensary, the model you’re going to provide them is very different from one that wants to build a multi-functional cannabis destination.
Missy Barnett, president of the tribal development corporation that runs the Iipay Nation cannabis business of Santa Ysabel, said Native Gro could help meet the demand for “more tribes than people who can help.” to open them, in the right way. According to Barnett, the Iipay Nation became the first tribal nation in California to open a cannabis business in 2016.
“When you get into logistics there is so much to do, and if a business has the background to know how to do the settlements, to know how to work with the country, to know how to work with the sheriff’s office. … If you have a single business that can start from start to finish, all aspects of what you’re going to encounter, it certainly takes a lot of stress out of a person trying to open something, ”Barnett said. . “Or even a whole tribe.
“The skin in the game”
Sheila Corbine (Ojibwe), partner at Large Fires Law and Policy Group who has worked with tribes entering the hemp industry, told Native News Online that tribes are wary of growing cannabis in a state where marijuana is illegal without a deal with the state because of the possibility raids by the police.
Corbine said other barriers to entry into the cannabis industry include ineligibility for programs, such as grants, which require compliance with all federal laws and the refusal of some banks to work with cannabis companies, forcing tribes to work in cash.
Another important consideration, Corbine added, is when a state operates under Public law 280—A 1953 law that gives some states the power to apply their own criminal laws to tribes. Corbine said states that don’t operate under Public Law 280 but don’t support cannabis cultivation can still encourage the federal government to enforce the federal marijuana ban.
“The state may not have this jurisdiction to raiding (a tribal cannabis operation), but it will certainly pressure the federal government to do them,” Corbine said. “And they could also do it in a state of public law 280, if it’s illegal there.”
Among the other legal hurdles facing tribes trying to enter the cannabis industry is the simple fact that marijuana is still an illegal Schedule I drug at the federal level. Cannabis is fully legal in just 18 states, according to DISA Global Solutions. Barnett said if the tribes don’t comply with federal regulations early on, it can be difficult for them to start their operations.
McKenzie said Native Gro, with her experience across the United States, can provide tribes with expertise on how to adapt to state marijuana regulations. According to Native Gro, once the company helps a tribe set up grow facilities and dispensaries, it will offer ongoing management of cannabis operations, allowing the tribes to stay as involved as they want.
Berland said a few tribes at a recent trade show expressed frustration to discover that their cannabis operation was not going as planned after the partner they were working with was already out of sight. He says Native Gro is different.
“I think a huge difference in what we offer, and something that seemed to resonate with them is, ‘We would like you to be there so that if things don’t go well you still have skin in the game. , ‘”Said Berland. “And if things go well, you can participate in the increase as well. “
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