Paiute tribe explores moving into the medical hashish enterprise

SALT LAKE CITY – The Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah is exploring entry into the medical cannabis business.

At a closed circuit meeting with Governor Spencer Cox and members of his cabinet last week, the tribe informed him that they were interested in making cannabis a tribal business.

“From cultivation to acreage to possible supplies. But also what it could mean for a tribe,” Tamra Borchardt-Slayton, a leader of the tribe, told FOX 13 in an interview.

On Thursday, the governor met privately with leaders from all of Utah’s Indian tribes to discuss issues, priorities and ways in which the two sides could work together. The Paiute tribe had a number of discussion points, including medicinal cannabis.

Newly-elected tribal leader Corrina Bow told FOX 13 she believes medicinal cannabis could be good for the tribe in terms of access for those who need it, but also economic development in rural Utah. The tribe has five gangs on lands in central and southern Utah.

“I think it would be good because we also have some of our elders who actually had to leave the state to get this,” Chairman Bow said. “It would be a great opportunity for many. Many of them are in rural areas that need it.”

Native American tribes across the country have begun legalizing cannabis for both recreational and medicinal uses. But like states, the sovereign tribes run the risk of criminal prosecution as marijuana remains illegal at the federal level. Borchardt-Slayton said some states have partnered with tribes to set up cannabis sales operations, including Nevada.

The Las Vegas Paiute Tribe owns and operates a 16,000-foot pharmacy on its sovereign land in southern Nevada.

“This relationship works. Your tribe is thriving because of the economic revenue that comes in,” she said of Nevada. “Because of this, [the tribe is] can offer more programs. “

The office of Gov. Cox declined to comment on the Paiute tribe’s request, but FOX 13 is told that cabinet members have offered to provide more information about the state’s requirements for cannabis cultivation and sales licenses. Legislature has limited the number of pharmacies (which the state calls “dispensaries”) that can be sold, but has expressed a desire to expand access in rural Utah.

When asked how the governor had reacted, Chairman Bow told FOX 13, “He appeared to be supportive. But you know, I’m not really sure. “