Thanks to Mlive for this:
A Native American tribe in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula on Wednesday announced plans to create a tribal marijuana market independent of state oversight.
It will compete with Michigan’s existing medical and recreational marijuana market that is projected to generate $1.5 billion in sales over the next year.
They intend to break ground on a 10,000-plant indoor grow facility south of Sault Ste. Marie as early as January 2021, Bay Mills Indian Communities Board Chair Bryan T. Newland said.
The grow operation will eventually supply stores near the tribe’s casino and on land it owns close to Gaylord, Port Huron and Flint. Bay Mills Indian Community hopes to expand its marijuana operation into a cooperative with Michigan’s dozen tribes, “so we can share the burden of doing this and the benefits can flow to different tribal communities,” Newland said.
Bay Mills Indian Community would provide marijuana and other related products for sale on cooperating tribal lands.
The Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency, which oversees the state’s medical and recreational marijuana markets, declined to comment on the Bay Mills Indian Community plans.
Since Native American lands are not subject to state law, tribal marijuana would be exempt from state sales and excise taxes, which currently total 16% for recreational marijuana sales in Michigan.
“Look, we’re sovereign governments,” Newland said. “We’re not giving up our right and our authority to regulate what goes on on our lands and we’re certainly not going to pay the state of Michigan taxes for what we do on our lands.
“Governments don’t tax other governments and they don’t ask other governments for permission.”
The tribe will also be exempt from state licensing, application and renewal fees. In order to be licensed as a 10,000-plant grow facility under the state licensing system, a business would be required to pay $206,000 in application and licensing fees up front with a similar but variable renewal fee each year.
“If you plant a seed and turn it into a product and sell it on tribal lands, you’re outside the state’s taxing authority,” Newland said. “So we expect that will allow us to be competitive on pricing.”
The Bay Mills Indian Community voted in 2019 to legalize marijuana in a similar fashion to the legalization law passed by Michigan voters in 2018.
The tribe intends to create its own regulatory system to ensure safety and quality control.
“On quality and price, we’ll be competitive with anybody else in the state,” Newland said.
The grow facility will be located on a 110-acre tribal plot near the intersection of Interstate 75 and M28, a several-minute drive south of Sault Ste. Marie.
“We’ll take advantage of the summer tourism market near our casino to do this,” Newland said, “but it is also important to note that our tribe has landholdings across the state of Michigan.
“And it’s our intention to grow this business, grow this venture, and bring it statewide.”