SANTA ROSA (AP) — A tribe in Mendocino County plans to be the first tribe in the state to grow and distribute a large amount of medical marijuana.
The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported the announcement late last week by the 250-member Pinoleville Pomo Nation. The deal authorizes a Colorado-based investor, United Cannabis, and Kansas-based FoxBarry Farms to grow and distribute products from thousands of marijuana plants at the tribe’s rancheria north of Ukiah.
FoxBarry president Barry Brautman says the operation will sell marijuana only for authorized medical users and dispensaries, in line with state law. The business will include a 2.5-acre indoor growing facility, due to be completed in February, the tribe said.
Many expect Californian voters to legalize recreational use of marijuana next year, joining at least four other states.
“The tribes are just getting out ahead of the game,” Mendocino County Supervisor Dan Hamburg said.
The U.S. Justice Department said last month that Indian tribes can grow and sell marijuana on their lands as long as they follow the same federal conditions set for states that have legalized the drug. Mendocino County officials say the Pomo pot operation will be exempt from most state and all local regulations, since it is on tribal land.
Mendocino County officials said they were surprised by the tribe’s announcement Thursday of the planned marijuana business. Hamburg, the county supervisor, said he was concerned about the size of the operation, and said indoor facilities like the one planned by the tribe have a bigger environmental impact than outdoor marijuana plots do.
“From an ecological perspective, that does not sit well with me,” Hamburg said.
United Cannabis and FoxBarry say they plan to launch two more similar operations in California. They have not disclosed the intended locations