The Puyallup Tribe of Indians is planning to sell recreational marijuana on tribal land in Fife, a move that would make it the first tribe in Washington to grow, test and sell cannabis.
“This would be a financial boost to the tribe once everything is up and operating,” said Puyallup Tribal Council member Marguerite Edwards in a prepared statement.
The tribe is tentatively looking to put its first marijuana shop where it now runs Stogie’s Cigar & Sports Lounge in Fife, tribal spokesman John Weymer said. Stogie’s posted on its Facebook page last month that it planned to close Sept. 24 to make way for a shop selling recreational and medicinal marijuana.
The Puyallup tribe has been moving toward recreational marijuana sales since January 2015, when it signed a compact with the state authorizing its marijuana testing lab.
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After opening the lab at the Salish Cancer Center this year, the tribe amended the compact to include production and sales of marijuana for medical or recreational use and began prepping a warehouse in the Port of Tacoma area for a grow operation.
A store opened by the tribe would be the only source of legal marijuana in Fife because the city bans pot sales. Stogie’s is on tribal land and not subject to city restrictions.
Fife City Manager Subir Mukerjee said the city has no objection to the tribe’s plans.
“We recognize they have jurisdiction over their land and they’re a sovereign government,” Mukerjee said. “They will decide what’s best in their interest.”
Fife and the tribe are at odds over money the city has requested to help pay for municipal costs created by tax-exempt tribal properties and for improvements to Pacific Highway East near the Tribe’s Emerald Queen casino.
Tedd Wetherbee, who owns two marijuana stores in Pierce County and is part of a group suing the city of Fife over its pot-shop ban, said the tribe’s decision to enter marijuana sales might help Fife “open up their eyes” and allow other stores to operate in the city.
Tribal officials still haven’t decided whether they will sell the tribe’s own marijuana in the store, Weymer said.
If they do, tribal members could get a price break. Though the tribe is required to tax marijuana sales to nontribal customers at the same 37 percent tax as state-licensed stores charge, it can choose its own rate or not tax pot sales at all for tribal members buying Puyallup-grown marijuana.
The tribe would keep any taxes collected on sales at its pot store. It has agreed to use tax receipts for “essential government services,” which are undefined.
Weymer said the tribe is hoping to open “an upscale operation” that would attract occasional users of marijuana.
“We want to add a little bit of the element of quality to it,” he said.