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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Canndigenous: Honoring Native American Heritage and Advocating for Indigenous Communities

Canndigenous is a unique and purpose-driven company that is committed to honoring Native American heritage and supporting indigenous people. Their mission is to responsibly grow, source, produce, and provide high-quality CBD products that promote healthy lifestyle choices and offer natural, alternative wellness solutions. Unlike many other companies in the cannabis industry, founder and owner Rob Pero has a history of equity work and advocacy for indigenous communities even before entering the cannabis industry.

Pero, a father of four, resides in Wisconsin, a state that has yet to legalize THC-touching cannabis. This makes him a true pioneer in his field. Before starting Canndigenous, he had experience in the military and worked in the corporate world as a structural designer until he lost everything. Determined to make a change, Pero founded his design firm, Perodigm, in 2010 and quickly became a leading voice for the indigenous community. He joined the American Indian Chamber of Commerce and began advocating for natives through his firm.

Rob Pero
Founder Rob Pero in one of the Canndigenous hemp fields.

In 2019, after the passage of the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill, Pero entered the cannabis industry and founded Canndigenous. He scaled up a 10-acre hemp farm in 2020 and also purchased a dispensary that was going out of business, which eventually became Ripley Green.

Canndigenous is known for its organic hemp grown on its Wisconsin farm and its consumer wellness products sold at the Ripley Green retail apothecary location in Cambridge, Wisconsin. In 2022, the company expanded its health and wellness product lineup, offering a subscription box option, celebrating a successful harvest season, and launching two new varieties of organically grown hemp strains.

Pero’s dedication to the indigenous community led him to found the Indigenous Cannabis Industry Association in 2022. The organization focuses on advancing the cannabis industry for the benefit of all indigenous communities and works on various levels of cannabis education and advocacy, including national, state, regional, and tribal levels. Recently, Pero and his colleagues organized the first-ever summit on cannabis and its impact on the indigenous community, addressing medicine, science, and potential reparations.

“The ICIA is highly focused on developing equitable state and federal policy reform strategies. We recognize the unprecedented economic opportunity of the hemp and cannabis industries for both the public sector and for Indigenous communities,” says Rob Pero. “Indigenous people and Tribal Nations have deep historical roots in the agricultural development of medicinal plants and have been disproportionately impacted by prohibition of cannabis in the United States. Now is a unique chance to pursue cannabis policy reform and ensure Tribal sovereignty.”

Native-owned Hemp Company Canndigenous

Canndigenous, led by Rob Pero, is positioning hemp as an economic driver for indigenous communities. As the first independent, Native American-owned hemp company in Wisconsin, Canndigenous has established itself as a leader in the state’s hemp marketplace. In 2022, the company partnered with leading cannabis organizations to position hemp as a pillar of the national cannabis industry and promote it as an economic opportunity for indigenous communities.

The company and its partners were awarded $15 million from the “Industrial Hemp for Fiber and Grain” project by the USDA’s Climate-Smart Commodities program. This funding will support the expansion of climate-smart markets and provide data and training on monetizing climate-smart practices through a digital marketplace pilot. Canndigenous is the only tribal-member-owned partner funded under the USDA’s Climate-Smart Commodities program to date.

Canndigenous is strategically aligning with cannabis and hemp leaders to advance the impact of these industries on health, sustainability, and economic development in the country. Rob Pero, along with his other roles, is a co-founder of the Indigenous Business Group and owns Perodigm, a marketing and consulting firm based in Wisconsin. Pero believes that hemp has untapped potential as an economic force for tribal nations and indigenous entrepreneurs.

Indigenous Cannabis Industry Association’s “Wisconsin Cannabis Industry and Policy Summit”

The Indigenous Cannabis Industry Association (ICIA) hosted the first Wisconsin Cannabis Industry and Policy Summit in February 2023. The summit aimed to bring together tribal leaders, elected officials, businesses, healthcare organizations, veterans groups, and advocacy organizations to discuss and uplift cannabis economic development in Wisconsin.

This summit was held at a crucial time as Wisconsin is expected to debate marijuana legalization during the 2023-2024 Legislative Session. The summit featured panel discussions and keynote speeches by experts and leaders in the cannabis industry. The goal was to address challenges, opportunities, and solutions regarding cannabis policy reform, particularly in relation to indigenous communities.

The ICIA has been actively advocating for federally legal regulatory paths for tribes in the cannabis industry. They have successfully advocated for non-interference for compliant tribal cannabis in the 2023 appropriations bill and have raised awareness about tribal sovereignty and indigenous rights in social equity language across multiple states.

The ICIA’s focus in Wisconsin includes advocating for federal rescheduling of cannabis, protecting and promoting tribal sovereignty in cannabis, ensuring tribal hemp and cannabis farmers have access to banking and merchant services, working with the FDA to protect tribal provisions in cannabis policies post-federal reform, and advancing indigenous communities in social equity and racial justice reform in the cannabis industry.

About the Indigenous Cannabis Industry Association

The Indigenous Cannabis Industry Association’s mission is to promote the exploration, development, and advancement of the cannabis industry for the benefit of all indigenous communities. They advocate for indigenous cannabis businesses, influencers, and aspiring entrepreneurs, and aim to create an equitable, just, and sustainable indigenous cannabis economy.

About Canndigenous

Canndigenous is the first Native American-owned hemp farm and CBD retailer in Wisconsin. They specialize in growing high-quality CBD and providing wellness products with a commitment to natural, organic, and sustainable practices. Canndigenous offers a full lineup of CBD products, including hemp flower, pre-rolls, and tinctures, available online nationwide and at their retail location in Cambridge, Wisconsin.


1. What is Canndigenous?

Canndigenous is a purpose-driven company that grows, sources, produces, and provides high-quality CBD products while honoring Native American heritage and supporting indigenous communities.

2. Who is the founder of Canndigenous?

The founder of Canndigenous is Rob Pero.

3. What is the Indigenous Cannabis Industry Association?

The Indigenous Cannabis Industry Association (ICIA) is an organization that advocates for the advancement of the cannabis industry for the benefit of all indigenous communities.

4. What is the significance of the Wisconsin Cannabis Industry and Policy Summit?

The Wisconsin Cannabis Industry and Policy Summit brought together various stakeholders to discuss and uplift cannabis economic development in Wisconsin, particularly in relation to indigenous communities.

5. Where can I find Canndigenous products?

Canndigenous products, including CBD products, can be found online nationwide and at their retail location in Cambridge, Wisconsin.

Dr. Jen Chalmers
Dr. Jen Chalmers
Dr. Jen Chalmers is an accomplished writer and cannabis enthusiast. With a Ph.D. in Botany and years of experience as a researcher, she brings a scientific perspective to her captivating articles on cannabis news, recipes, and the fascinating world of psychedelics.

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