Recreational Marijuana Lounges Become Latest Additions to Michigan Tribal Casinos

Jessica Aletor
By:
Jessica Aletor
16/05/2023/
News
Blurry Land Base Casino

Highlights

  • Michigan tribes are now looking to offer sale points and smoking lounges for legal marijuana in their casinos.
  • In 2022, a legislation was passed to allow local tribes to sell recreational marijuana products in Michigan.
  • The recreational and medical cannabis market in Michigan reported $250 million from sales in the month of March 2023 alone.

Michigan tribes are looking to combine two of the fastest growing industries in the state — gambling operations and legal cannabis.

Last year, Michigan legislators passed a law that permitted all the 13 tribes in the state to engage in sale of recreational marijuana. The law also requires a license from the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency for growers, processors, or sellers.

Given this legal leverage, Michigan tribal authorities are starting to add lounges and dispensaries to their existing casino business. It is hoped that this inclusion can drive revenue and bring more taxes to the tribes.

What Does It Take to Sell Recreational Marijuana at a Tribal Casino?

The 2022 amendment of the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act was a game changer for both recreational cannabis and tribal casino operators. Not only did the legislation permit Indian tribes to acquire marijuana licenses, but it also allowed them to keep some part of the tax revenue for the development of their tribe.

In addition to this law, tribal authorities had to follow specific federal rules for selling marijuana products set by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Many tribal casinos have since opened recreational marijuana businesses, but none of the stores or dispensaries have been on casino land.

Engaging in cannabis business for most of these tribes means they get to successfully tap into a booming industry that is projected to bring in $2 billion worth of revenue by the end of 2023.

A Look at Michigan Tribal Casinos with Legal Cannabis Operations

Several operators started independent marijuana businesses long before the legislation in 2022. Even more are hoping to begin operations before the year runs out. Here are some of the top tribal casinos that already have legal cannabis businesses near their casino land.

Northern Lights Cannabis Company

Owned by the Bay Mills Indian Community, the Northern Lights Cannabis Company is the first marijuana business by an indigenous tribe in Michigan. The company, which is in Sault Ste. Marie, features a massive 10,000-plant facility and a store where it sells processed cannabis. Plans to build a processing facility in the eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan are underway.  

Interestingly, the Northern Lights Cannabis Company is independent of the tribe’s casino business. The former chairman of the tribe, Bryan Newland, disclosed at the establishment of the company that the Northern Lights was financed by investment capital and represents a diversification of the tribe’s business interests.  

Beach Fire Cannabis

In August 2022, the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians Tribal Council approved an adult-use cannabis ordinance which regulated production and sale of cannabis among the sovereign nation tribes. Fast forward to March 2023 and the band has launched Beach Fire Cannabis as part of its general tribal business operations.

Beach Fire Cannabis is in Acme Township, just adjacent to the tribe’s Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel. The tribe also owns Leelanau Sands Casino up north in Peshawbestown, Michigan.

Lume Cannabis Company

Located at 246, 3 Mile Road in Sault Ste. Marie, the Lume Cannabis Company is a subsidiary of the Sault Sainte Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. The cannabis company operates on tribal land and focuses on growing, processing, and distributing cannabis for recreational and medical adult-use.

“At Lume, we pride ourselves on offering an unmatched variety of safe and high-quality THC and CBD products and we are excited to introduce our brand and show cannabis in a new light to adult-use consumers in Sault Ste. Marie and the eastern Upper Peninsula,” said Doug Hellyar, the COO and President of Lume months before the opening.

Lume Cannabis Co. was established in 2021 independent of Kewadin Casinos, the Michigan gambling business of the Sault Tribe.

Rolling Embers 

The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians are the latest indigenous tribe to establish a legal cannabis brand. Rolling Embers opened its doors to Michiganders in April 2023 and operates a retail store and smoking lounge for customers. Although the Pokagon Band tribe has three retail gambling businesses operating under the brand name Four Winds, Rolling Embers is not affiliated with any of the casinos.

Rolling Embers is an independent facility built on over 4,000 square feet of space, with an indoor retail space and an outdoor space for social events, smoking and food trucks. The cannabis company has also been a source of employment to about 14 people since establishment.

Jessica is a news contributor to Gamble Online Michigan. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Economics but has over three years of experience working in the hospitality and gambling industry. Despite her core finance and investment banking background, she has been a casino feature writer for N1 Interactive Limited and multiple gambling affiliate sites. Her work has been featured on the bet365 blog, casino.zone and Max Force Racing. She spends her time between Michigan and California, staying up-to-date on the latest industry developments