The Bay Mills Indian Community (BMIC) has announced plans to establish a community-owned cannabis business entity on its tribal lands.
The move, announced earlier this week, will see the tribe convert a 110-acre parcel of tribal land south of Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. into a commerical cannabis grow, process and retail operation that will be able to house upwards of 10,000 cannabis plants in the first phase of the project. The tribe will then launch a number of cannabis retail stores throughout Chippewa County, including a location near Bay Mills Resort and Casino, in the second phase.
BMIC says the operation will be licensed and regulated under tribal law, with proceeds flowing back to the community.
“Bay Mills Indian Community has developed businesses to generate revenues for our tribal government, and to benefit our citizens and community. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the urgency for us to find new sources of economic opportunity for our people,” said BMIC Tribal Chairperson Bryan Newland via news release. “We don’t begrudge anyone else who has found a different way into this industry.”
“At the same time, Bay Mills has no interest in turning over our sovereign lands to private, for-profit corporations who are regulated and taxed by the State of Michigan.”
BMIC maintains that Michigan’s laws, regulations and tax structure don’t apply to activities on tribal lands. The tribe enacted its own laws and regulations to authorize personal and commercial use of cannabis on its lands in 2019.
“The state limits growers and processors to a certain number of plants, places heavy taxes and fees on the product, and restricts the amount of product an individual can buy,” said Whitney Gravelle, in-house counsel for BMIC. “These are all things that Bay Mills is not bound by and we are looking at each of these areas as a built in advantage against the large corporate interests that have set up shop in Indian Country.”
BMIC will announce details about its partners and opening dates as the project develops.