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Red Lake Tribal Council to step away from day-to-day cannabis operations

Customers wait in long lines to enter NativeCare on opening day on Aug. 1, 2023.
Lorie Shaull
Special to KAXE
Customers wait in long lines to enter NativeCare on opening day on Aug. 1, 2023.

The unanimous vote came after allegations of the tribal secretary improperly removing bags of cannabis byproduct, which the Council says are unfounded.

RED LAKE — The Red Lake Tribal Council voted to step away from the day-to-day operations of Native Care, the tribally owned recreational and medical cannabis dispensary on the Red Lake Nation.

The Red Lake Tribal Council met Tuesday, Jan. 30, and first discussed allegations that Secretary Sam Strong removed a significant amount of cannabis “trim” stored in garbage bags at the NativeCare facility.

Trim is the term for the leaf byproduct removed from the cannabis flower post-harvest, and can be used to create other cannabis products, such as edibles and vape cartridges.

In a Wednesday news release, the council stated it reviewed a report that found the trim was accounted for and transferred to Native Care business partners for further processing. The allegations involving the tribal secretary were unfounded, the release stated.

A request for comment from Strong on Wednesday night was not returned. The Star Tribune reported Strong stating the allegations around the trim removal were "totally untrue."

The Tribal Council also voted unanimously to step away from the day-to-day operations of NativeCare, which will now operate as a stand-alone business, with its personnel policies and other details.

The Tribal Council also named the Tribal Regulatory Cannabis Board as the regulatory body that oversees cannabis operations on the reservation, which is authorized to investigate violations of the Adult Use Cannabis Ordinance.

The dispensary on Red Lake Nation is not subject to state regulations because of the tribe’s sovereignty and opened the day recreational marijuana became legal in Minnesota.

Most other dispensaries in the state will not open until next year.

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