Part of Sault Tribe Economic Development Corp.’s push with Sault Tribe Thrive is to find ways to leverage the advantage of tribal sovereignty within the business community.
As a sovereign tribal nation, the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians is exempt from state and local laws. Additionally, doing business on tribal lands can come with tax advantages in some instances.
The tribe leveraged that sovereignty in a partnership announced last summer with Lume Cannabis Co., a vertically integrated marijuana company. While some local communities in the Upper Peninsula opted out of participating in the state’s recreational cannabis market, those local regulations do not apply on lands within those communities owned by the Sault Tribe, which legalized marijauna.
To date, Lume has opened two dispensaries on Sault Tribe land and plans to have a total of four operating across the tribe’s seven-county service area by June, according to Joel Schultz, executive director of Sault Tribe EDC.
The existing state-licensed stores opened in mid and late January in Sault Ste. Marie and Escanaba.
In a late February interview, Schultz said the tribe is “very comfortable with our decisions” to partner with Lume after the dispensaries had been open for a month and a half.
“I don’t know if we could have successfully launched them on our own, at least not in the time frame that we did,” Schultz said. “But partnering with an industry expert and using the status as an advantage that we had to partner and capitalize on that, I think was a great opportunity for the tribe in an industry that we might not have been able to get into otherwise.”