Instead of a casino, the Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians has applied in Sonoma County, California to grow approximately 1,000 cannabis plants outdoor in Petaluma. The proposal is to use 29 acres of the 277 acres that belong to the tribe in the area.
Although the tribe owns the land, it is not officially in trust as sovereign, tribal land. Therefore the laws that apply to any unincorporated territory in Sonoma County apply to the tribe’s property.
Sonoma City Council members and other area business leaders have expressed growing resistance to adding multiple casinos in the area. Petaluma City Councilmember Mike Healy has spoken in favor of a plan that would allow the tribe “to get some economic return on its property without a casino.” But cannabis, while potentially lucrative, is not a surefire crop by any means. Many cultivators in California are struggling, partly due to prices dropping and partly due to environmental and other factors.
In July of 2021, the Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians and civic leaders agreed to extend a deal that the tribe would construct no casino on the property before 2033. The tribe closed its River Rock Casino at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic lockdown in exchange for waiving its $750,000 annual payments to the county in 2020 and 2021.
The tribe’s proposed plan for their cannabis grow site includes a 100-foot setback from property lines, pine trees to mask the odor, no chemical storage, landscape screening & fencing, and on-site security.
The Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians Pomo and Wappo ancestors have a sophisticated knowledge of their environment, refined arts & technologies, participated in complex trade networks, and have strong family and community bonds. They lived in the Russian River and Dry Creek Valleys continuously and successfully for over five thousand years.