INDIAN TOWNSHIP, Maine — Denver-based Monarch America Inc. has signed a letter of intent with the Passamaquoddy Tribe to design, construct and develop a marijuana cultivation facility on tribal land.
Monarch America President and CEO Eric Hagen said Tuesday the Passamaquoddy Tribe reached out to the company, which recently contracted for a similar facility with the Flandreau Santee Sioux tribe in Moody County, South Dakota.
“We were the first company to get into a contract with a Native American tribe,” Hagen said.
As per the letter, signed last week, the parties intend to execute a management consulting agreement under which Monarch America will design, engineer and build a structure, measuring 35,000 square feet, on Passamaquoddy tribal trust land to be used for marijuana cultivation, Hagen said.
In addition, Monarch America will oversee and consult regarding all facets of the marijuana operation, including property management, technology and equipment purchasing, inventory control, staffing and day-to-day operational management.
Hagen estimated the facility could be up and running “in a couple of months.” Because the marijuana can be grown indoors, the oncoming colder weather will not hurt the operation.
The indoor facility also would serve to keep the marijuana secure, Hagen said.
“We look forward to utilizing our constantly expanding design and operational expertise to assist the Passamaquoddy Tribe to build and maintain a thriving marijuana focused business, increase economic diversity and stability, and create many important new jobs for the tribe and its many members,” Hagen said in a news release.
Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, but U.S. Justice Department officials have taken a hands-off approach to enforcement in states where medical cannabis has been legalized and there is strong local oversight.
The U.S. attorney’s office in Maine is aware through media reports of the medical marijuana facility proposed for Indian Township but has “not been contacted by either of the parties involved,” Donald Clark, public information officer, said late Tuesday afternoon.
“On Oct. 28, 2014, the Department of Justice issued a policy statement regarding marijuana issues in Indian country. If asked, we would indicate we would follow that policy,” Clark said.
The policy prioritizes marijuana enforcement, given the number of states that have moved to legalize marijuana for medicinal, agricultural or recreational use. Among the priorities are preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors; preventing revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs and cartels; and preventing violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana.
Calls to the tribal office at Indian Township on Tuesday afternoon were referred to Vice Chief Leslie Nicholas, who did not immediately return calls.