City council members this week began touring the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe’s marijuana growing facility as part of a way to learn about future local plans.
The opportunity will help the council be educated and informed as the tribe gets ready to grow plants, Mayor Dan Sutton told council members at the Jan. 4 meeting.
In November, South Dakota voters approved both medical and recreational use of marijuana, going from a prohibition state to full use. While marijuana is scheduled to become legal July 1, it is not legal under federal law.
States must decide their own laws for the legalization of marijuana use, a topic that is expected to be debated by this year’s Legislature. The amendment allowing the sale and use of marijuana also faces a legal challenge.
With the ability for the legal sale and use of marijuana, tribes can sell products off of reservation lands. That also means that customers can buy products on tribal land and take them with them.
The change means the tribe is preparing to be a leader in the industry, Sutton said. It also means potential business growth in Flandreau.
“They also are talking about bringing in additional hotel chains,” Sutton said. “If they create lounges and those types of things, they’re going to need places for people to stay. Additional restaurants also are part of the plans, including food chains, he said.
Tribal leadership did not reply to a request asking for information about specific plans for marijuana growing and local sales.
“Everything is preliminary,” said Seth Pearman, the tribe’s lawyer.
In 2015, the tribe started growing marijuana with the intent of selling it beginning the following year, after a tribal vote to legalize the use, which the tribe interpreted to be legal under federal law.
The plans would have meant the tribe would have been the first in the nation to open a marijuana lounge. But after legal uncertainties arose, the tribe ended up destroying millions of dollars worth of plants in November 2015.