Red Lake plans to open Minnesota's first recreational marijuana dispensary Aug. 1

Medical marijuana greenhouse
NativeCare on the Red Lake Nation will expand to sell recreational marijuana.
Jennifer Simonson | MPR News

Red Lake Nation is preparing to sell recreational marijuana at its dispensary on Aug. 1, the same day Minnesota legalizes cannabis use.

Dispensaries in the rest of the state aren’t expected to open until early 2025.

The state law envisions compacts between the state and 11 tribal governments around medical cannabis and adult-use recreational cannabis. The legislation makes clear that the tribal governments are sovereign and can operate regardless of whether the state and tribes enter into an agreement.

The hope of bill sponsors is that negotiations will proactively settle any jurisdictional issues and make sure that public safety and health are considered. The governor is given power to enter into agreements with tribes wishing to make them. For the tribes, those compacts could afford certain civil and criminal protections.

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Red Lake Nation members had pushed for the sale of recreational marijuana years ago, when the band legalized medicinal cannabis by referendum.

Tribal Secretary Sam Strong said in an interview with MPR News that it’s an opportunity to regulate business at a time when fentanyl is being found more often in cannabis products.

“Fentanyl has been taking a deadly toll in our community,” said Strong. “We want to make sure that we’re protecting those that choose to participate.”

Strong said the move also creates “an investment opportunity for the tribe to provide tested product to individuals that want to purchase it.”

Red Lake’s dispensary, NativeCare, has been providing medical marijuana to band members and non-members since April. The dispensary will expand to sell recreational marijuana.

Located in the northern Minnesota town of Red Lake, Strong says the dispensary is “accessible for individuals that choose to come to the reservation.” The tribal secretary emphasized that non-Red Lakers will be protected by Red Lake tribal laws while on their lands and protected by state laws upon leaving the reservation.

He said he hopes people check out the dispensary’s website and when visiting they are “as respectful as possible to our people and our laws and try to appreciate who we are as a people.” 

Red Lake moved to amend its tribal code on Tuesday to legalize the sale of recreational marijuana.  

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