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Red Lake Nation Council hands off daily operation of tribal-owned dispensary

The Red Lake Nation Council's move follows a theft allegation that was found to be false

The Red Lake Nation Tribal Council announced Wednesday that it would no longer handle day-to-day operations of its tribal-owned marijuana dispensary NativeCare, the first recreational dispensary in Minnesota.

The move comes after an employee alleged that a Tribal Council member stole a large amount of cannabis byproduct.

According to the band's news release, an employee from NativeCare's grow facility alleged that Tribal Secretary Sam Strong removed a significant amount of "trim" - the leaf byproduct removed from cannabis flowers after harvest - from garbage bags without authorization from the facility. The Council reviewed a report and determined that the product was not stolen but instead picked up by one of Native Care's business partners, according to the release. The report found the trim was picked up so the business partner could turn otherwise wasted material into new products such as vape cartridges, the release states. All of the product in question was accounted for, it said.

After reviewing the report, the dispensary employee who accused Strong admitted he never saw Strong take any cannabis material from the grow facility, and that his initial report was incorrect, the release states.

Reached by phone Wednesday, Strong called the allegation "totally untrue."

Red Lake Tribal Council

The council discussed the situation at a meeting Tuesday before taking a vote on how the dispensary will be operated. In a unanimous vote, the Tribal Council ordered that Native Care be operated as a standalone business, and that the Council should step away from the dispensary's day-to-day operations.

Strong declined to comment more on the situation or the implications of the vote.

The Council also ordered that the personnel policies, benefits, job descriptions and other details of the standalone business be developed, according to the release.

With the change in the Council's role, the members directed that the nation's Tribal Regulatory Cannabis Agency will act as the regulatory body overseeing cannabis operations on the reservation, the release adds.

The NativeCare dispensary opened in Red Lake, in northwestern Minnesota, in August.


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