Should tribes roll the dice with cannabis production?

Back to Press Releases

September 15, 2017

BROOKFIELD, Wis. — David Vialpando, director of gaming programs for OnCourse Learning Financial Services, is one of three distinguished panelists discussing the issues tribes with casinos should consider before making legal cannabis production part of their economic diversification strategy.

“Cannabis and Gaming: Should Tribes Get Into Cannabis?” is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Sept. 21 at the National Indian Gaming Association Mid-Year Conference & Expo at the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel.

Rion Ramirez, general counsel, Port Madison Enterprises, will serve as moderator. Panelists include Robin L.W. Sigo, Port Madison Enterprises; Bill Sterud, chairman, Puyallup Tribe; and Vialpando, chairman of the Santa Ysabel Tribal Gaming Commission and executive director of the Tribe’s Cannabis Regulatory Agency. Port Madison Enterprises is an agency of the Suquamish Tribe.

Legal cannabis production details
“NIGA conference attendees who are curious about legal cannabis enterprises on tribal lands or who are contemplating engaging in legal cannabis business will benefit from the lessons learned by Santa Ysabel in the Tribe’s more than two years of experience in this industry,” Vialpando said.

Vialpando plans to share Santa Ysabel’s successful experience in the regulated medicinal cannabis market, including:
• Constructing a carefully considered business plan.
• Following tribal constitutional processes.
• Instituting a background suitability process to vet non-tribal business partners.
• Establishing a robust regulatory framework and enforcing tribal statutes and cannabis enterprise regulations.
• Implementing precautions and rules to keep tribal gaming operations completely separate from legal cannabis enterprises.

“Gaming should not be affected if the two enterprises are kept completely separate and prohibitions are put in place preventing any activity related to cannabis from occurring inside tribal casinos,” Vialpando said.

Cannabis production issues

Vialpando said he will address the following considerations with cannabis production:
• Being aware of current federal prohibitions on any activity related to cannabis.
• Gathering as much information as possible to make solid business decisions.
• Following tribal constitutional and legal processes in designing cannabis operations.
• Reviewing problems associated with banking revenue derived from cannabis businesses.
• Engaging state and local government agencies regarding tribal cannabis operations.
• Educating the community and garnering community support for tribal cannabis enterprises.

OnCourse Learning Financial Services is a leading provider of governance, risk and compliance training for the gaming, bank, mortgage, credit union and nonbank financial services industries. It offers a comprehensive course catalog complemented by its sophisticated learning management system. To learn more, please contact 866-512-9888, visit or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

For media inquiries, contact:
Deborah Filipek, Media Relations Manager

About OnCourse Learning
OnCourse Learning delivers licensure, regulatory and compliance education solutions throughout the nation’s leading industries including financial services, healthcare and real estate. Through trusted industry expertise, compliance management and technology solutions, OnCourse Learning focuses on advancing the e-learning environment for individuals and businesses to help to build new careers, empower employees through knowledge and identify efficiencies in corporate training management. OnCourse Learning offers a full suite of educational products including state and federally approved prelicensing and continuing education programs, accredited course content, exam prep tools, publications, e-books, events and a sophisticated and customizable learning management system and course-authoring tool. To learn more, visit