Tribe authorizes marijuana business | News

PESHAWBESTOWN — The GTB marijuana ordinance enacted by all six of The Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians Tribal Council in May will go into effect Aug. 29.

Tribal chairman David Arroyo said that the ordinance is similar to the Michigan Marijuana regulation and that it will fundamentally allow the authorization for a tribal chartered entity to engage in all aspects of an integrated marijuana business.

In 2019, GTB followed the 2018 Michigan referendum for legal recreational marijuana. The tribe held their own referendum, with an overwhelming support from tribal citizens to decriminalize use and possession of marijuana on most tribal reservation land.

Under the ordinance, the tribe will regulate and control the commercial cultivation, processing, distribution, and sale of marijuana and marijuana products for the adult use legally (persons over the age of 21) within the tribe’s jurisdiction.

It states that the council on behalf of the tribe finds that the tribal economy needs to be diversified beyond what is “primarily tourism-based business,” and that “marijuana is an economic commodity in an emerging market that is not based on tourism.”

As a direct result of the COVID 19 pandemic, the GTB enterprise consisting of all the tribe’s economic resources suffered a significant decline in revenue, Arroyo wrote in a statement.

He also said that retail marijuana will allow the opportunity for economic diversification to offset recent decline.

“All benefits obtained from the endeavor will be used to enhance tribal programs for tribal members.”

This includes law enforcement, education, health care, and social services, according to the ordinance’s policy.

A Grand Traverse Band Marijuana Regulatory Commission with an executive director who reports to the Tribal Council will be created under the ordinance. The commission will oversee licensing marijuana growers, processors and retailers operating under guidelines detailed in the ordinance.

The Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians will be following other Michigan tribes that legalized marijuana for recreational use in their jurisdiction in 2019, like the Bay Mills Indian Community who opened their first tribal-owned dispensary in Michigan in November 2020. The Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians, partnering with Lume Cannabis Co. in 2020, opened their first store on tribal lands earlier this year with plans to open an additional five more 2021-2022.

Michigan tribal sovereign nations are not obligated to comply with Michigan state law, and the ordinance states that marijuana use is generally prohibited under federal law with which tribes are generally obligated to comply with.

As a sovereign nation, The Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians have the inherent authority that is plenary and provides the tribe with exclusive power over its members and territory.

The ordinance highlights, in amending GTB’s Constitution, that the tribal statute is consistent with the criminal prohibitory civil regulatory, which authorizes tribal activities so long as they are civilly regulated under state law.

It is unclear where the tribe will locate their dispensaries, or if the tribe will hire outside consultants as industry experts, which the ordinance states it is in the authority of the tribe.

By law, the dispensaries must be on on the tribe’s trust land, including their reservation lands in Peshawbestown, but also trust lands located in Acme and Whitewater townships.