Tribal Marijuana Resort
South Dakota: The Flandreau Santee Sioux reservation has begun growing it’s 65 strains of plants in hopes of producing 80 pounds of pot in 14 weeks, in preparation for the New Year’s Eve opening of the first of its kind resort. The tribe is hoping to sell 80 pounds weekly at its smoking lounge and entertainment resort just south of their casino. The Sioux are renovating an old bowling alley on the reservation, and are attempting to turn it into a club atmosphere with food, drinks, live music and perhaps some slot machines.
While the club will be within a block of the tribe’s casino, restaurants, and hotel, tribal officials are making sure to let visitors know the lounge building will be the only place on the reservation where buying and consuming marijuana will be tolerated. While the reactions have been mixed, one immediate impact is that the tribe has severed its joint police force with the city, forming their own police force on the reservation with about 5 officers. The tribe is also offering a separate building for people who need marijuana for medical purposes and will also treat children with non-psychoactive oils, with a doctors recommendation and parental consent, at the resort. The tribal leaders emphasize the many safe-guards put in place to keep children from obtaining marijuana, which incudes heavy security at the growing facility and the tribal police force which will be active 24 hours a day.
They also hope to ease fears about intoxicated drivers by having a near-by hotel and offering shuttle buses, similar to those offered for gambling trips. Much like drinking at a bar or casino, the leaders plan to carefully monitor the consumer’s intake and “cut them off” if they over-indulge. The opening is only a few months away, the leaders are hoping the revenue will not only benefit the tribe but also the town.
First Medical Marijuana Dispensary in Metro East
Illinois: HCI Alternatives will be the first dispensary in Collinsville to open its doors by the end of the year. The dispensary, one of two that will be in the area, is within a few hundred feet of the Illinois State Police headquarters. This was done intentionally according to HCI Alternatives’ Security Director, Scott Abbott. The proximity to the station shows how seriously the business feels about security. He explains that all entrances leading to restricted areas as well as the dispensary will have bullet proof glass. Abbott was an Illinois State Police Officer for 20 years and was originally opposed to the idea of a dispensary saying, “there are so many drugs and so much abuse with it, the last thing we need is more drugs.”
However, after meeting with patients in Colorado and doing a little research himself, he changed his views. One doctor who hands out referrals for the medication points out the patients “we’re seeing aren’t out of a Cheech and Chong movie, they’re mothers, fathers, grandparents, and professionals that are desperate for alternative treatment.” According to the state, women ages 51-60 make up the majority of qualifying patients with the most common condition being fibromyalgia, followed by cancer. HCI Alternatives plans to open the day after the state signs off on their license, which should be before the end of the year, and will be selling the types of products dictated by their consumers needs. The second dispensary in the area will open in late January.
The Buckeye State Rejects Legalization
OHIO: In a clear-cut 64% to 36% decision, Ohio has voted against the legalization of cannabis. Known as “Issue 3” on the ballot, citizens of Ohio chose to not accept this proposed new law. While at first this may seem as a defeat to the movement, a closer inspection reveals exactly why this particular legalization effort failed.
First, the proposal would have created a state-run monopoly on the production and distribution of the herb, limiting any cultivation to just 10 approved properties within the state. Most of the marijuana activist groups in Ohio were against this idea from the start, and remained vocal about it during the entire campaign.
Secondly, of the four states that have decriminalized recreational marijuana, all of them had some kind of medical marijuana provisions on the books prior to the decision to go full legal. It would seem as if medical marijuana laws tend to help ‘break the ice’ when it comes to changing the public perception of cannabis. Issue 3 skipped this concept entirely.
Other factor at work is the common trend of voter turnout being typically low on odd-numbered years. Usually when something big is going to happen, it happens on even numbered years, when congressional seats are up for grabs, and especially during presidential elections.
One more problem with Issue 3 was the failed attempt of its advocates at creating appeal to the initiative, when they revealed their cartoonish mascot, “Buddie.” Intended to help the cause, the plan backfired as pro and anti-marijuana groups alike chided the absurd character for appealing to children, criticizing the strategy for turning a serious issue into a joke. Buddie received public ridicule from the national media, and was the subject of many quips from late night talk show hosts.
However, the effort in Ohio has not stopped. National Cannabis Industry Association executive director Aaron Smith said in a statement after Tuesday’s vote: “This debate has shown that there is a strong base of support for legalizing, taxing, and regulating marijuana. Now the foundation has been laid for a potential 2016 effort that would put forward a more common-sense initiative and have a major impact on the presidential conversation in the process.”
Where to Stash the Cash?
Colorado, Oregon, & Washington: According to Colorado’s Department of Revenue, sales of marijuana in the state pulled in a total of $100.6 million in August alone. In Washington, income from recreational sales were down in August compared to previous months with only $31.1 million, but the state is still expected to pass the $100 million mark by the end of the year. Oregon’s recreational sales began earlier this month and have already brought in around $11 million. Colorado is well on it’s way to hit the $1 billion mark alone this year but the three states combined will most definitely surpass that number.
So thhe question becomes: Where to put the cash? Apprehensive to violate federal laws, only 220 of more than 7,600 banks and credit unions in the country accept money being brought in from marijuana sales, according to the U.S. Department of Treasury. Many businesses are now spending tens of thousands of dollars for security to protect their cash.
Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley of Oregon, recently introduced a bill that would give legal businesses access to banking services. Another, similar bill was introduced in the House, and both bills have been referred to subcommittees for review. However, while that long process takes place, some private organizations are trying to help. Until a permanent solution is found, many legal businesses find themselves with hundreds of thousands of dollars, which otherwise would’ve been going to drug cartels and dealers, and no place to store it.