Data Shows Growing Number of Native American Tribal Cannabis Business Owners

in Culture

As more states continue to legalize adult-use cannabis, we’re witnessing a growing trend surrounding ownership of cannabis businesses — namely that Native American tribes are investing in cannabis with tribal-owned stores becoming increasingly more common in recent years.

According to data published in MJBizDaily, the number of tribally owned retailers has grown by roughly 25% since January 2023. As of May 2024, there are 57 tribally owned dispensaries, both medical and adult-use, throughout nine states.

With legal adult-use cannabis becoming more commonplace throughout the country, tribes are entering the industry to diversify their economies and boost revenue. 

Though legal cannabis also carries unique benefits for tribes, as a way to assert their sovereignty and seize the first-to-market advantage in newly legal states, as explained by guest columnist Matthew Klas, a senior associate with Minneapolis-based national consulting firm KlasRobinson Q.E.D. specializing in economic development on tribal lands.

A Closer Look at Tribal-Owned Cannabusinesses

There are 574 Native American tribes recognized by the U.S. government, with roughly 350 falling in the lower 48 states. Sovereign nations may have their own laws that differ from state laws, sometimes more restrictive — like cannabis sales and use bans even within states that have enacted recreational reform — or sometimes offering more leniency than state law.

While many of the stores are on tribal lands, not all are.

Tribes are currently operating businesses in nine states: California, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, South Dakota and Washington. 

The data found that the average size of tribal cannabis stores is about 4,300 square feet, ranging from stores with less than 1,000 square feet to complexes spanning more than 10,000. 

Washington state has the most tribal retailers and the most tribes operating shops, at 23 stores operated by 18 tribes. Nevada is second, with 10 tribal stores owned by eight different tribes. Most of these tribally …

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Author: Keegan Williams / High Times

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