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Native American tribes that want to get into the cultivation and sale of marijuana have a new resource for business guidance: The National Indian Cannabis Coalition (NICC).

The coalition — the first marijuana trade organization focused on Native American entrepreneurs — launched March 10th, 2015 at the Reservation Economic Summit in Las Vegas, Nevada. In December 2014, the United States Department of Justice released a document that stated that it will not enforce the federal ban on marijuana cultivation and sales on tribal land.

Because interested tribes can now get involved with the marijuana industry, the National Indian Cannabis Coalition was founded to help provide the resources necessary for a new business.

What the Coalition Does

The National Indian Cannabis Coalition’s stated goal is “to inform and educate tribal leaders on the emerging regulated cannabis markets from an entrepreneurial and operations perspective.”

This means that the NICC is committed to providing accurate information about all stages of cannabis cultivation and sale to tribe members who are interested in joining the industry. This information includes covers the following subjects:

– Startup financing for cannabis-related operations.
– The process of acquiring all necessary operational permits and business registry.
– The construction of buildings for these operations.

Currently, it is free for tribes to join the coalition. The coalition’s founders hope to fund the project through support from vendors who have a history of success in the marijuana industry.

Lessons From the Casino Industry

Since the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was passed in 1988, Native American tribes across the United States have flourished in the gaming industry. As of 2011, America’s reservation casinos brought in a combined $27 billion in profits. In a recent interview with The Cannabist about the NICC’s official launch, NICC co-chair Allyson Doctor said about the Native American casinos, “we learned that working together to develop policy and regulations that work for all the communities is a good thing.” Later in the interview, she went on to compare the casino industry with the burgeoning marijuana industry, “When you compare the two industries, they’re probably equally as regulated and complex.”

And that’s exactly how the NICC will help tribes that are considering becoming part of the marijuana industry. In any industry, trade groups exist to protect merchants and artisans by promoting business-friendly policies and encouraging healthy competitions among members. With an industry as new as legalized marijuana, it can be easy for aspiring business operators to be taken advantage of by predatory policies and bad market information.

A Guiding Force in Indian Country

“Trust is an important factor in Indian country,” Doctor said later in the interview. As a member of a tribe herself, she recognizes the unique challenges and issues that tribal entrepreneurs face. Protecting tribal interests is a top priority for the coalition, which seeks to empower prospective marijuana business owners and operators on reservations across the American West.

Photo Credit: Mark

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