When the Justice Department released a memorandum in 2014 encouraging U.S. attorneys to not prevent the cultivation and selling of cannabis by Native Americans on sovereign lands, they likely didn’t realize it would only be a year before the nation’s first pot resort cropped up.
In South Dakota, the plans by the Santee Sioux include adding to their existing buffalo ranch and hotel to include a grow operation, smoking lounge, arcade, bars, restaurant and a pot-friendly nightclub. They are also entertaining the idea of slot machines and an outdoor venue music once the aforementioned is complete.
Tribal president Anthony Reider told the Associated Press “We want it to be an adult playground. There’s nowhere else in America that has something like this.”
The tribe projects the resort to be able to generate as much as $2 million in monthly profits. It plans to sell cannabis between the $12 and $15 per gram price points, with the first joints expected to go on sale during December 31st New Year’s Eve festivities.
The Flandreau Santee Sioux Reservation is located on the Big Sioux River, composed of approximately 5000 acres of sovereign land. The Santee Sioux voted to legalize cannabis on their reservation in June of 2015. South Dakota does not currently have any medical marijuana legislation in place and possession of over two ounces is classified as a felony, punishable by a year in prison and a $4,000 fine. Possession of hash and/or concentrates is also an automatic felony, punishable by 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.
There has yet to be full-blown cannabis resorts showing up on the map prior to the Santee Sioux’s plans, even in the more pot-friendly pockets of Washington and Colorado. There has been speculation as to whether the Justice Department memorandum will stick, depending on who takes over as President of the United States following the upcoming elections in 2016. Regardless of election outcomes, Timothy Purdon, the chairman of the Attorney General’s Subcommittee on Native American Issues and U.S. attorney for North Dakota has said, “The tribes have the sovereign right to set the code on their reservations.”