About Native Nations Cannabis
FSST Pharms, LLC, doing business as, Native Nations Cannabis (“Native Nations Cannabis”), is a wholly owned limited liability company owned by the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe of South Dakota (the “Tribe”), and organized in accordance with the Tribe’s Constitution, and Tribal Law and Order Code. Native Nations Cannabis was created on March 8, 2015 by FSST Tribal Resolution No. 15-42, and is governed by an eight-person Board of Directors. The Tribe, in accordance with Tribal, and Federal Indian Law, conferred its privilege of sovereign immunity onto Native Nations, and other various attributes.
The Development of Native Nations Cannabis
Cannabis was first legalized in the United States in 1999 for medical purposes in the State of California, and by 2014, over 20 states had legalized the use, possession, and cultivation of Cannabis. Marijuana remains a Class I controlled substance, and is illegal federally due to the Controlled Substance Act, and other federal law. As a means of striking a balance of federalism, the United States Department of Justice (“DOJ”) issued guidance to the states in the form of the Cole Memorandum in 2013. The Cole Memorandum laid out certain criteria regarding legalized cannabis, and in doing so, established the principles that, if followed, would prevent the DOJ from taking enforcement action against cannabis companies, and users.
In 2014, the Wilkinson Memorandum was published, which took the core principles that were established in the Cole Memorandum, and applied them to Indian Country. The issuance of the Wilkinson Memorandum sent shockwaves throughout Indian Country. Economic Development in Indian Country had become increasingly stagnant. Indian Gaming, although increasing the economic position of many tribes annually, was competing with more and more state-regulated gaming facilities, and because of rural nature of some tribes, was not a dependable source of revenue. Tribes in this era were successful in agricultural businesses, real estate, government contracting, and gaming, but development of well-controlled cannabis operations could easily supplement, or surpass, many existing tribal businesses.
On March 15, 2015, the Executive Committee of the Tribe, after meeting with various federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, authorized Title 29 of its Law And Order Code entitled the “Marijuana Control Ordinance.” The Tribe began actively developing its cannabis industry, and invested over a million dollars into a former maintenance building, to create a state-of-the-art cannabis cultivation facility. After seeds were in the rockwool, and more than seventy strains of cannabis began growing, the Tribe received a call from a friend, who provided that the FBI had several days planned to raid the Tribe’s cannabis facility. In complete disbelief, the Tribe flew to Washington, D.C. and meet with federal counterparts to discuss the operation, and the 180 degree turn from the memos the government issued. The Tribe then decided to stop its production, had its own tribal police destroy the plants, and waited until the legal landscape improved.
After a successful state-wide initiative and referendum in 2020 to legalize adult-use and medical marijuana in South Dakota, which the Tribe remains the largest donor to, the legal landscape flipped in South Dakota. People were now able to possess certain amounts of cannabis in South Dakota, and the Tribe fired up its facility, with first legal sales occurring on July 1, 2021. The State lagged in the development of regulations and the like, which has kept it from legal sales to date.
Currently, the Tribe has 10,000 square feet of cultivation space, a commercial kitchen, state-of-the-art extraction lab, and dispensary, and services well over 10, 500 patients from all over the country. The Tribe, by and through its Cannabis Control Commission, issues medical cards to patients who qualify under its legal framework. My comparison, in May 31, 2022, the State of South Dakota’s medical marijuana program has issued a total of 911 patient cards (Iowa – 9662 patients as of May 1, 2022; North Dakota – 7,830 Patients as of June 2, 2022; Minnesota – 35,711 patients as of June 2, 2022). All facilities are currently operated under the direction of Jonathan Hunt, COO, and the Board of Directors, and the Company currently employs over 50 individuals, most of which are Native American.
At its facility on the Flandreau Santee Sioux Reservation, and all other locations, Native Nations operates a perpetual grow utilizing automated inline fertigation systems. The method of application of nutrients is top-drip irrigation utilizing micro and micro nutrients in the form of dissolved salts. All nutrients are clean salts that are free from heavy metals, and impurities. Cultivators do not use any pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides, and rely on natural predatory mites and other plant-based foliar sprays to maintain plants. Its laboratory utilizes the most modern, clean hydrocarbon closed-loop extraction systems available, and produce extracts, distillate, diamonds, sauces, sugars, shatters, and live resin pods to name a few products. Native Nation Cannabis is able to produce 100% of the products available in the Cannabis Industry nationally. All Native Nations Cannabis products are tested by a third party testing laboratory to ensure that the products are safe, and that patients have a positive experience based on their needs.
Native Nations is expanding its on-Reservation cultivation by 20,000 plus square feet in the next few months, and will be developing a South Dakota-Licensed 76,000 square foot facility off the Reservation in Mitchell, South Dakota which growing space of 96,000 square feet. It has further submitted applications in multiple states, including working with partners in Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe in Akwesasne, New York, and within the Shinnecock Territory in Southampton, New York. It is also the managing member of a developing state-licensed project in Boston, MA with 54,000 square feet of cultivation. Native Nations Cannabis is actively consulting with Tribes across the United States, and is looking at several international opportunities.
Native Nations is available to consult with Tribes, Tribally-owned Businesses, and Tribal Member-owned Businesses to develop vertically integrated cannabis solutions, including consulting on the development of tribal law and regulations.