Enterprise booming at Native Nations Hashish marijuana dispensary

In late June, a warehouse in Moody County, South Dakota grew 10,000 marijuana plants.

It wasn’t enough to keep up with demand.

A month of legal medical marijuana sales at South Dakota’s only pharmacy on the Flandreau Santee Sioux Reservation shows cannabis is popular in the state – so popular that expansion is already in the works.

Meanwhile, cities across the state are grappling with regulating the industry. Sioux Falls is pushing rules that would keep the vast majority of the city closed to pharmacies, with other communities reluctant to do anything until they see where their Minnehaha and Pennington counties land up.

But while councilors and mayors work on their medical marijuana regulatory plans, the tribe is literally at work.

More: For the Flandreau Santee Sioux, patience and boldness pay off

Native Nations Cannabis, the company the tribe runs its marijuana operation with, not only sells marijuana at the pharmacy, but also builds, packages, and trims products at its facilities on the southern edge of Moody County’s headquarters.

The entire operation required Native Nations Cannabis to put together a roster of 50 employees. And CEO Eric Hagen said it was still difficult – sometimes impossible – to keep up with demand.

With the South Dakota Department of Health due to begin issuing both medical cards and commercial cannabis licenses by this fall, the tribe’s pharmacy is the only legal marijuana store in the state since medical marijuana became legal on July 1.

And that has resulted in long lines in front of the trunk’s store, sometimes extending into the parking lot.

When Hagen gave a tour of the facility this week, business was stable. Prospective customers were required to show a security guard outside a tribal-issued medical marijuana ID card. Inside, they stood in a waiting room until they were called into the pharmacy, where they could look through various cannabis products such as edibles and pre-rolled joints.

More: Can You Use The Internet To Find A Marijuana Friendly Doctor? Flandreau tribe says yes, but SD is still deciding

Flower, the traditional marijuana buds most commonly found on the black market, are also sold at the tribe’s pharmacy. At least most of the time.

In July, the pharmacy temporarily ran out of dried flowers, said Hagen. After the flowers were ready for sale again, the pharmacy had to reduce its self-imposed limit on purchases from 1 ounce to a quarter ounce.

“This pharmacy would be considered – how should you put it correctly – it would compete with or measure itself against a pharmacy in a large subway area,” said Hagen, who is a veteran in the industry.

“It’s obviously busy,” he added. “It’s crazy.”

Cannabis industry experts say they are not surprised by the events in Flandreau or the indirect economic activity related to it.

More: South Dakota won’t be ready to distribute medical marijuana until July 1, but Flandreau will be

Ned Horsted, executive director of the South Dakota Cannabis Industry Association, said he hoped other communities where officials are not keen on the legality of medical marijuana will learn a lesson from the events in Flandreau.

“This is a tremendous opportunity,” he said. “And there are some cities and towns that are looking at this kindly and looking forward to offering their communities new economic opportunities.”

Fortunately, he added, the tribe had products in stock that could be prefabricated, so they could always offer some products to meet demand.

Big growth for the cannabis pharmacy

A construction crew was at work behind the retail section of the pharmacy. The pharmacy is adding three more point-of-sale areas to speed up purchases and limit waiting times.

The tribe began with an area of ​​10,000 square feet to grow cannabis. The crews worked to add an additional 24,000 square feet.

The unfinished back room of the pharmacy will eventually house a commercial kitchen and another part a hydrocarbon extraction laboratory. The kitchen will be a major upgrade to enable the creation of edible products.

The hydrocarbon extraction laboratory will enable it to operate efficiently

“When it’s done, this area will look like a pharmaceutical laboratory,” said Hagen.

What influence does the pharmacy have on the general public? Hagen points to a gas station next door that is full of cars. In the past there were always open pumps. Hagen says he expects restaurants and shops in the area to see business growth.

More: For the Flandreau Santee Sioux, patience and boldness pay off

Kelly Ramsdell, a businesswoman and president of Flandreau Development Corp., said it was too early to know what impact, if any, Native nation cannabis is having on the city’s economy.

The evidence, she said, is found in the city’s monthly sales tax reports.

But, she added, there were more vehicles in town.

“There’s more traffic, yes, absolutely,” she said.