Navajos are known for their medicinal plants.
They are also known for some of the harshest climates in the country, and they’re often overlooked in the cannabis landscape.
The Navajo are one of the first communities in the U.K. to legalize medical marijuana, and the first state in the nation to allow recreational marijuana sales.
But for some Navajans, the plant medicine trade isn’t as popular as it once was.
“When I was a kid, you’d walk to the local dispensary and there’d be a plant medicine salesman selling marijuana and I’d see a lot of girls in hoodies and T-shirts selling marijuana, so I think we’ve been overlooked,” said Ali Sato, who owns a cannabis dispensary in Navajo, Colorado.
Sato says his dispensary is seeing more than its fair share of visitors.
He also says the business is growing and that the community is growing more accepting of medical marijuana.
“We’ve got a lot more people coming to us now because we’re a medical marijuana dispensary,” Sato said.
“We’ve definitely seen a big uptick in the last two or three months, and I think that’s because we’ve just been able to attract a lot a younger demographic.”
Sato and other marijuana dispensary owners have seen an increase in business, with sales in Navajo up 20% this year compared to last year.
In 2016, the last year for which data is available, there were 1,739 licensed marijuana businesses in the region, according to the Marijuana Enforcement Division.
“Navajo has been one of our primary cannabis growing areas,” said Dan Pabon, CEO of Colorado-based cannabis testing company Medical Marijuana Analysts.
“A lot of people have heard of the great cannabis strains we grow here and now we’re seeing a lot, a lot greater demand than we had a couple years ago.”
Marijuana is the fourth-most commonly used illicit drug in the United States.
But it is still illegal in many states, including Colorado, where recreational marijuana is legal.
The state has become the leading source of pot in the US, with the state’s population now larger than New York City.