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Former Seminole Chief Leads Partnership to Boost Legal Marijuana Industry on Tribal Lands

Photo: Public Domain via Pixabay
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The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

He led the Florida Seminole Tribe when it challenged the U.S. Supreme Court over gaming on tribal lands. The legal victory helped kick start a gambling industry now estimated at more than $33 billion. Now former Seminole Chief James Billie wants to do for marijuana what the tribes achieved for gaming, aiming to make tribal producers the source for marijuana in a growing number of states that have legalized recreational and medical use of the drug.

Billie is partnering with Nevada-based Electrum Partners in the effort to bring investment and expertise to marijuana grow operations on Native American lands. Despite the shifting legal sands of cannabis use in multiple states, the drug remains illegal at the federal level, with a Schedule I classification that declares the drug to have "no currently accepted medical use" and "a high potential for abuse." Other Schedule I drugs include heroin and LSD.

Billie joins Gulf Coast Live to talk about the 29 states with some form of medical or recreational marijuana legalization, and the advantages he says tribal lands have as potential producers of a marijuana crop.

Also joining the show is Leslie Bocskor, president of Electrum Partners, about how tribes in Florida and others states like California could become growers in the $6.7 billion legal marijuana industry.

Copyright 2020 WGCU. To see more, visit WGCU.

Matthew Smith is a reporter and producer of WGCU’s Gulf Coast Live.
Julie Glenn is the host of Gulf Coast Live. She has been working in southwest Florida as a freelance writer since 2007, most recently as a regular columnist for the Naples Daily News. She began her broadcasting career in 1993 as a reporter/anchor/producer for a local CBS affiliate in Quincy, Illinois. After also working for the NBC affiliate, she decided to move to Parma, Italy where she earned her Master’s degree in communication from the University of Gastronomic Sciences. Her undergraduate degree in Mass Communication is from the University of Missouri at Kansas City.