Benefits of selling marijuana may stretch beyond tribal land

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FLANDREAU - Pot isn't legal in South Dakota unless you're on the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe reservation.

Wednesday, the tribe released new details about it's plan to grow and sell marijuana, as well as some of the rules and regulations in effect once the operation is up and running by the first of the year.

Flandreau tribal leaders announced the tribe signed a 5-year deal with Monarch America, as its growing partner.

Tribal leaders hope Monarch's experience in Colorado will benefit Flandreau's foray into growing and selling pot on the reservation.

KSFY News spoke with representatives from monarch and the tribe about what they will sell and to whom.

Monarch America vice-president Jonathan Hunt said "we're going to grow about 60 different strains, and those will change through the years depending upon what the market demands. Just like any kind of beer or wine, these things come in and out of popularity, we'll grow what there's a request for."

Flandreau Santee Sioux tribal president Tony Reider said "ordinance states that 21 and older will be able to consume with a valid ID. We'll check ID's at the door, we'll check ID's at the point of sale, and we're going to allow 18 and over with medicinal licenses. We're going to honor medicinal licenses from other jurisdictions, and we're also going to allow minors to consume with the consent of an adult and with a physician."

The bowling alley of the family entertainment center on the reservation is where people will be able to use marijuana for both medical and recreational use.

Tribal leaders believe this could be a test to pave the way for other tribes across the state.

It also could bring in thousands of dollars to the reservation and benefit more than the tribe.

The Royal River Casino is already a money maker for the tribe, however, selling marijuana could bring in enough money to not only help tribal housing needs and treaty obligations but others as well.

The tribe plans to grow about 200-300 pounds of pot a month.

It will sell both medical and recreational marijuana at about $10-$15 per gram.

Marijuana may only be used on the reservation, and the tribe plans to monitor the use of pot closely, the same as alcohol.

The Flandreau Santee Sioux Trribe chose Monarch America as its rowing partner to walk them through this process because of the company's experience with legalized marijuana in Colorado.

But in South Dakota, the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe reservation is the only place where using marijuana is legal in the state, but the benefits may stretch beyond tribal lands.

Flandreau Santee Sioux tribal treasurer Ryan Kills-a-Hundred said "surrounding communities as well, with public services, or donations of every spectrum you can think of, so I think that vastly outweighs anything that they would have gotten from taxes from the tribe as well."

Tribal leaders expect the sale of medical and recreational marijuana could bring in as much as $60,000 to $1 million dollars a month which might catch the attention of other tribes across the state.

"Everybody is afraid of the unknown, as far as what our due diligence showed us, the department of justice at a federal level, saying it will treat tribes the same as states that legalize. We do have a level of comfort that we are operating legally. It's kind of funny because the federal government says it's illegal, but they say go ahead," Reider said.

Hearing that the use of marijuana is legal, might be words many have been waiting for.

"To watch a loved one die, is hard enough, but if they can add some level of comfort or possibly combat that illness and save them, to be able to offer that service to people, it's a great feeling," Reider said.