The tempting opportunities in the cannabis industry are continuing to attract prominent Native American leaders. Former Seminole Tribe Chief James E. Billie has announced that his company, MCW, in partnership with Electrum Partners, will be helping tribes across America establish cannabis businesses.
The 2014 Justice Department memo allows tribes to grow cannabis on sovereign land. But tribes have been struggling to comply with complex limitations. The Santee Sioux, for instance, were forced to destroy their first harvest and another California tribe was raided for going beyond limits that were established. “There’s tribes . . . already have the land. But they don’t have the funding. They don’t have the expertise. And they don’t have the ability to develop,” Billie said. “It will be bigger than bingo.” Billie’s reputation is larger than life. He’s wrestled alligators, built a fortune and is behind several locations of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
Leslie Bocskor, president of Electrum Partners, is specifically focused on the perks of running business on sovereign land. Tribes are not subject to certain restrictions that all others face, such as IRS Code 280E, which imposes enormous tax burdens on retail companies. The 2014 Justice Department memo stands out. “It is probably the single most significant change and opportunity that exists in the legal cannabis industry today and for the foreseeable future,” Bocskor said.
Both companies hope to open licensed medical cannabis facilities in legal states. The partnership is first looking at California for business. Billie’s home state of Florida has not yet established regulations on its medical cannabis amendment passed last November. The Florida Department of Health will determine rules for the state’s medical cannabis program by July 3. Billie hopes to eventually work with his own Seminole Tribe based in South Florida. Boksor also sees the unlimited possibilities for cannabis business on Native American land.