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Warm Springs Tribes Vote On Cannabis Cultivation


Members of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs stand in line Thursday, Dec. 17., waiting to vote on a referendum that would legalize growing cannabis on the reservation.

Members of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs stand in line Thursday, Dec. 17., waiting to vote on a referendum that would legalize growing cannabis on the reservation.

Amanda Peacher/OPB

Members of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs voted Thursday on a referendum that would allow the tribes to cultivate cannabis.

If the measure succeeds, the tribes would create a marijuana grow operation on the reservation, and open tribal-owned retail shops off of the reservation.

The business arm of the tribe, Warm Springs Ventures, predicts that the tribe could pull in around $26 million in profits if it started growing and selling cannabis.

“I think our tribe needs another kind of revenue,” said Roberta Kirk, who voted in favor of the resolution. “We’re in debt right now and we just need all the help we can get.”

A successful ballot measure would make Warm Springs the first major tribal enterprise to grow marijuana in Oregon.

But not everyone at the polls Thursday supported the move.

Tribal member Mona Cochrane said growing marijuana doesn’t align with tribal values.

“In the past, they would call it drug pushers,” she said. “Now, they’re calling it a product. It’s like going against the value and belief system of the traditional and cultural aspects of the community.”

Even if the measure passes, consuming marijuana would remain illegal on reservation lands. Legalization there would require a separate initiative.

OPB reporter Amanda Peacher spoke with All Things Considered host Kate Davidson about the referendum. Listen to the conversation through the attached audio player at the top of this story. 

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