(Fort Washakie, WY) – Stimulate, Educate, Medicate, Advocate and Just Breathe (SEMAJ) created by Bobbi Shongutsie and Austin Hill is a finalist for the 2021 Wind River Startup Challenge.
Bobbi and Austin, both Eastern Shoshone Tribal Members, have been working to legalize medical marijuana and hemp production on the Wind River Reservation for nearly two years.
The Fort Bridger Treaty of 1863 and 1868 entitles the Tribe to land, air, and resources among other things, Bobbi shared. In addition, articles 18 and 12 allow for the cultivation of the highest valued crop.
“We want to utilize that by having greenhouses to produce our own cannabis medicine and open a dispensary. We think growing our own medicine as opposed to opioid use will help lower crime and addiction to amphetamines. Hemp also has many uses and is a renewable resource.”
The process to legalize marijuana and hemp production through the Eastern Shoshone Business Council started in 2019 when Austin got it on the council agenda. Since then, they have been researching, documenting, and learning from hemp and cannabis producers outside of Wyoming.
The pandemic slowed the momentum, but they are ready to move things forward again.
They have learned a lot since 2019, Bobbi noted. Most recently, they finalized a petition with the help of attorneys and are currently collecting signatures. In order for the petition to go before the council, a minimum of 75 signatures from Tribal Members is required.
With the selection deadline approaching for the Wind River Startup Challenge, it leaves a small window to get the petition passed by the council – a May 15th meeting is their hope right now.
With a good outlook on revenue generation, establishing relationships with other producers, and partnerships to help build what they need, both Austin and Bobbi are hopeful for the legalizing of medical marijuana and hemp production.
County 10 attempted to connect with all of the Wind River Startup Challenge finalists to do a story on their proposed businesses but did not hear back from everyone.
Click here to see all of the stories about finalists we were able to interview.