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A company owned by the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe is building a 50,000-square-foot cannabis cultivation facility behind Grand Casino Mille Lacs in Onamia, Minn.

Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures (MLCV) announced last week construction has already begun and should be completed by fall.

"Profits generated from this endeavor will be reinvested into the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe to support essential government programs and services for its members," MLCV said in a news release. "Furthermore, it presents a new avenue for job creation within the Mille Lacs tribal economy."

The grow operation is the latest cannabis development on tribal land following the decision by Red Lake Nation and White Earth Nation last year to open the state's first recreational marijuana dispensaries. Minnesota's tribes have been early movers in the new market as they have sovereignty to set their own cannabis rules and regulations.

The state's full adult-use cannabis market is expected to come online next year once regulations are finalized and licenses are issued.

Mille Lacs Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin took time to make the decision.

"I wasn't necessarily on board with it, but I decided to take it out to the elders in the community," Benjamin told the Star Tribune in January. "I asked them if they want to have this type of business here on the Mille Lacs Reservation, and of all the people that decided to respond, we got over 90% [saying] yes, we want to move forward with this."

Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures does not yet have plans for a retail outlet and intends to "stick to the growing and manufacturing side" for now, the company said. As one of the first large grow operations to come online, MLCV could become an early supplier for retailers around the state.

"We're excited about this new venture and the opportunity to generate additional employment in the region," MLCV Chief Executive Joe Nayquonabe said in a news release. "With our experience in other regulated sectors, we're confident that we can establish a benchmark for a safe, regulated and thriving cannabis business on the Mille Lacs Band reservation."

The band created its own Department of Cannabis Regulation and adopted regulations similar to those in state law for governing marijuana growing, selling, testing and use.

"These regulations include comparable age restrictions, purchase limitations, associate licensure mandates, and guarantees of product safety and quality," MLCV Vice President Zach Atherton-Ely said.

Cannabis smoking remains banned at Grand Casino Mille Lacs and Grand Casino Hinckley.

MLCV owns a variety of businesses, including the InterContinental St. Paul Riverfront hotel, the DoubleTree hotel in St. Louis Park, a movie theater, grocery store, convenience stores and a wastewater treatment plant.

Star Tribune staff writer Jenny Berg contributed reporting.