Could cannabis be the new gambling for Native Americans? So far, tribes are being shut out

At the end of a road off scenic Highway 79, in rural San Diego County, a building that once let visitors try their hand at slot machines and poker tables is now a shop that sells cannabis flower and marijuana-infused truffles.

The Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel opened the Mountain Source cannabis store about two weeks ago, in the front part of a failed casino that tribal leaders abandoned in 2014. The back part of the casino, overlooking Lake Henshaw, will be used for marijuana testing and to bake cannabis edibles. And the surrounding land, a hilly stretch covering more than two acres, is dotted by white-walled marijuana greenhouses, with more cultivation space under construction.

David Chelette, left, board member of Santa Ysabel Botanical Facility, and Dave Vialpando, executive director Santa Ysabel Tribal Cannabis Regulatory Agency, stand in the Mountain Source dispensary operated by the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel on Highway 79 in Santa Ysabel on Wednesday, February 6, 2019. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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