Last updated: 01:00 AM ET, Thu October 01 2015

Nation's First Marijuana Resort to Open in South Dakota

Destination & Tourism | Patrick Clarke | October 01, 2015

Nation's First Marijuana Resort to Open in South Dakota

Photo by David Cogswell

South Dakota's Santee Sioux tribe has its sights set on opening the U.S.'s first-ever marijuana resort.

The Associated Press reported the tribe, which has had success in previous ventures, including a casino and hotel, has revealed plans to open a smoking lounge equipped with a nightclub, arcade games, food and drinks as well as an outdoor concert venue.

"We want it to be an adult playground," tribal president Anthony Reider told the AP. "There's nowhere else in America that has something like this."

The concept hinges on the tribe's ability to legally grow and sell its own marijuana, which has been legal on Santee Sioux land since June after the Justice Department implemented a new policy granting Indian tribes the same freedoms as select states. 

While Colorado's CannaCamp opened as the country's first all-inclusive cannabis resort this past July, it can't legally provide marijuana for guests.

But along the Big Sioux River in Flanteau, South Dakota, 25 minutes north of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and four hours southwest of Minneapolis, workers are already growing dozens of different strains of marijuana, expected to go on sale during a New Year's Eve celebration Dec. 31.

The tribe is currently being assisted by consulting firm Monarch America, whose vice president and chief grower Jonathan Hunt stressed to the AP that "this is not a fly-by-night operation."

"[Tribal leaders] want to show the state how clean, how efficient, how proficient, safe and secure this is as an operation," he added. "We are not looking to do anything shady."

Once up and running, the resort would be the first of its kind, as the public consumption of marijuana remains largely prohibited, even in states where recreational use is legal.

In order to ensure that the marijuana doesn't leave the reservation, thus risking the business, it will be sold to resort visitors in special bar-coded one-gram packages costing anywhere from $12.50 to $15. And in order to purchase another gram, customers will have to return the previously purchased package with the bar code intact.

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