The Santa Rosa Band of Cahuilla Indians received authorization from the federal government to open reservation land near Mountain Center to hemp cultivation, the tribe announced Wednesday.
“We look forward to partnering with outside businesses to produce a successful venture that will in turn provide economic growth for our reservation,” tribal Chair Steven Estrada said.
“As a non-gaming tribe, we are always looking to diversify our economic development options in order to ensure we provide our tribal members with services, such as water, housing and higher education,” he said. “Hemp production will allow us to increase these services.”
There was no word on when the tribe will announce lease opportunities for growers.
According to tribal spokesman Mike Hiles, the U.S. Department of Agriculture granted the Santa Rosa Band of Cahuilla Indians permission to engage in hemp cultivation under the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program, which was attached to the Agriculture Improvement Act, approved by Congress in 2018.
Hiles said that only three tribes, including the Santa Rosa band, have been authorized to utilize the program.
Hemp producers are required to adhere to criteria established by the Department of Agriculture.
The main difference between hemp and unadulterated marijuana is the tetrahydrocannabinol — or THC — content. Hemp leaves have about three-tenths of 1% of the compounds contained in cannabis leaves.
Hemp can be used in a variety of industrial products, including textiles, paper and insulation. It is also applied in skin-treating oils and some edibles.