Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe’s newest venture, High Point

High Point, a marijuana retail store, will open its doors on March 3

High Point — a new retail store for marijuana owned by the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe — will open its doors sometime this spring. High Point will be managed by the Noo-Kayet Development Corporation, which oversees all of PGST’s economic ventures.

For now, this new store will operate out of the portable building next to Gliding Eagle Marketplace. Construction on a permanent structure will, hopefully, begin before the end of the year.

Our Tribal leadership and community have been discussing getting into the pot business since recreational marijuana became legal in Washington state. From the start, there have been those in our community for and against, with strong opinions and passions on both sides. Tribal Council made a point to listen to everyone’s perspective.

In the end, we did decide to move forward. What this meant was revising our own Law & Order Code to allow for our Tribe to enter into all aspects of the marijuana business, and to legalize the drug for private use by our community members over the age of 21 on the Reservation. These laws went into effect on July 18, 2017. We received our compact with the state to open the store at the very start of this year.

We chose to get into the pot business after much serious consideration because of our obligation to take care of our community members. We do this on the Reservation through the services we’re able to provide — healthcare, wellness, elder care, family support, dentistry, housing, education, utilities, fisheries, treaty protections, and more. I’m proud of how our Tribe has been able to expand services over the past decade to best support all our families. We have been able to be innovators, finding ways to do things in new ways before any other tribe in the state or country. For example, we recently hired a dental therapist and were the first Tribe in the state to do so since the passage of a law allowing these health professionals last year.

All of these services — including the staff they support — cost a lot of money. The more we do, the more money it costs. Because of our dedication to providing the best possible support to our Tribal members, we are obligated to find new ways to build revenue. Tribal Council charges Noo-Kayet with exploring these opportunities. Before any venture is approved, we require Noo-Kayet to perform extensive due diligence, so we understand the risks and rewards. Retail marijuana had far more upsides than down from an economic perspective.

While we’ve been confident that retail marijuana will pay off financially, we’ve gone into this cautiously. Recreational marijuana became legal in 2012. In 2015, Suquamish became the first Tribe in Washington to execute a compact with the state to open a retail store. Obviously, it has taken us much longer. It was important to us to make sure it was the all-around right decision for our Tribe, even as we work to educate our children about the dangers of drug abuse.

In 2017, marijuana stores in Kitsap County rang up $27 million in sales. We expect High Point to be a lucrative business, one that will benefit everyone in this community.

— Jeromy Sullivan is chairman of the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, an indigenous nation amd a signatory to the Treaty of Point No Point of 1855. Contact him at jeromys@pgst.nsn.us.