Medical Marijuana Company Lead Sponsor at Gathering of Nations

The Medical Cannabis company Ultra Health, has become the lead sponsor for the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow.

Ultra Health, a national provider for the healthcare cannabis industry with operations and facilities in Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico, and retail dispensaries to commercial-scale cannabis production in New Mexico and Las Vegas, has become the title sponsor for the Gathering of Nations Pow wow for 2017.

In addition to the sponsorship, the official name of the event will be the "Ultra Health - Gathering of Nations." 

This marks the first time a medical cannabis company has sponsored such an event. Ultra Health has agreed to the title sponsorship for the next five years and holds an option to consider sponsorship through 2027.

The new logo - Courtesy Ultra Health

"The Gathering of Nations Powwow is a very spiritual and social celebration," said Duke Rodriguez, CEO and President of Ultra Health in a company release. "At Ultra Health we believe such components are vital to well-being, and sponsoring the event was an obvious decision in light of the importance Native people have historically put on healing and natural medicine."

According to the release, Ultra Health is committed to fostering positive relationships with Indian tribes. In 2016, Ultra Health broke ground with the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe to build two dispensaries and a major cultivation center on the Snow Mountain Reservation and near downtown Las Vegas. Ultra Health is also in talks with tribes in a number of economic development projects in the cannabis industry including retailing, cultivation and cannabis event promotion.

The Gathering of Nations pow wow, a 3-day event which gathered nearly 90,000 people last year, is a 3 day event, will be held April 27th to 29th, 2017 on the new Pow wow Grounds at Tingley Coliseum/EXPO in Albuquerque.

See Related: Gathering of Nations Announces New ABQ Home at Tingley Coliseum

Though recent polls have indicated 90 percent of Americans approve of medical cannabis, and 54 percent approve of its total legalization, not all sponsorships are so readily accepted, earlier this year, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta denied Ultra Health’s bid for sponsorship.

According to PRNewswire, In a letter received on June 16th, 2016 from Paul Smith, Executive Director of the AIBF, "…several members of the Board related stories of how their patients or members of their family had received great results from medical cannabis. Most of the Board agreed that medical cannabis should be considered a mainstream pharmaceutical."

Though the letter voiced some support, the AIBF Board ultimately declined Ultra Health's sponsorship request.

Deborah White Plume, whose husband, Alex White Plume has been an advocate for the growing of hemp for decades, says she has mixed emotions about the sponsorship. White Plume says she supports the use of medical marijuana as well as the sponsorship, yet is disappointed by Ultra Health’s name on the Gathering of Nations.

“First of all I am curious what the organizers get for sponsorship. But ultimately though I use medical marijuana, I feel this is an exploitative and corporatizing of Native people. I think it would be friendly and respectful if Ultra Health took their name off of the event name, otherwise it is just another exploitative and oppressive gesture to the red nation.”

"We debated whether this was the right thing to do," Rodriguez told ICTMN. "But we did a lot of research and found the highest rates of support for cannabis is from Native people."

Though ICTMN submitted requests for comment, GON organizer Derrick Matthews was not yet available to comment. 

Follow ICTMN’s Arts and Entertainment, Pow Wow’s and Sports Editor Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter - @VinceSchilling