A tribe in Minnesota that’s currently operating one the state’s only adult-use marijuana shops says it’s planning to open a mobile dispensary—effectively a cannabis “food truck” that can travel and do business on tribal land throughout the state.
The Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, which opened its doors to adult consumers on the day that a legalization law took effect this month, said it’s currently serving about 300 customers per day at its flagship location in Red Lake, with some people driving hours to visit the northern Minnesota town.
Now the Red Lake Nation’s NativeCare retailer wants to expand its operation and bring cannabis to more markets by moving around with the ability to set up shop anywhere across the nearly 1 million acres of tribal territory within Minnesota.
Tribal Secretary Samuel Strong told Minnesota Public Radio that he’s “very excited to see how the community will respond.”
“Obviously, there’s some more security concerns that would be involved with a food truck, but very similar to that concept,” he said. “You know, setting up shop and being able to serve customers and have the same level of customer service while being mobile and being more available to our consumers.”
“We’re building that ‘Minnesota nice’ brand, and we’re doing it in a way that’s good for the tribe and good for cannabis consumers. And so that’s really encouraging to see that positive interaction.”
Minnesota’s cannabis landscape is unique, in large part because tribes have been permitted to open marijuana businesses before the state begins licensing traditional retailers. Adults can legally possess and cultivate marijuana as of August 1, but the process of enacting regulations and licensing traditional retailers is expected to take at least another year.
In the interim, the marijuana food truck could help meet demand from people who aren’t able to venture out to Red Falls—a 3-4 hour commute from most major cities.
NativeCare, which had an “overwhelming” opening day that eventually forced them to turn away customers and suspend online purchases, said it is also planning to open two more shops in addition to the mobile service.
“I think we’re really changing perceptions, both of outsiders coming onto Red Lake and of outsiders from Red Lakers’ perspective,” the tribal secretary said. “And so that’s really a positive part is seeing that building those bridges, and cannabis is doing just that.”
Meanwhile, the White Earth Nation tribe has also launched an adult-use cannabis shop, with its governing council voting to authorize marijuana sales late last month.
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Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura also said this month that he wants to get in on the action, too, and become the “first major politician in America” to have his face on a marijuana brand.
Minnesota’s legalization law further created the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM), which launched last month. It will be the primary regulatory body that will oversee the market and for which the governor is actively seeking an executive director, who he expects to announce in early September.
Another body that’s been instituted is the Cannabis Expungement Board, which will facilitate record sealing for people with eligible marijuana convictions on their records. The review process for eligible cases commenced on Tuesday.
Even before Gov. Tim Walz (D) signed the reform bill, the state launched a website that serves as a hub for information about the new law. Officials have also already started soliciting vendors to help build a licensing system for recreational marijuana businesses.
The governor has been bullish about the legalization measure that lawmakers delivered to him following an extensive legislative process. He’s sharply criticized Republicans who’ve asked for a special session to address what they describe as “loopholes” in the law concerning youth possession and public consumption. And he’s welcomed adults in neighboring Iowa to visit and participate in the market.
Separately, another Minnesota law also took effect this month that legalizes drug paraphernalia possession, syringe services, controlled substances residue and testing.
Also, under another bill that the governor signed into law this session, a Minnesota government psychedelics task force is actively being built out to prepare the state for the possible legalization of substances like psilocybin and ibogaine.
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Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.