William Bills returns

The Securities and Exchange Commission has suspended trading in a marijuana company based in Douglas County and Carson City that claims an association with the Winnemucca tribal colony.

The company, formerly called IX Biotechnology, merged with American Housing Income Trust in March 2017, to become Corix Bioscience Inc. Its base of operations is described variously—the SEC makes it to be Surprise, Arizona—but its Nevada license names both Carson City and Douglas County.

An SEC statement reads in part, “The Commission temporarily suspended trading in the securities of Corix Bioscience, Inc. because of questions that have been raised about the accuracy and adequacy of publicly disseminated information concerning, among other things, the company’s assets and operations in Nevada. This information includes claims that CXBS holds a valid, state-issued export license in Nevada for growing, processing and distributing industrial hemp.”

Reports on the dispute include frequent mention of William Bills, a Filipino who has claimed to be a member of the Winnemucca tribe.

Bills was adopted by a member of the Winnemucca tribe. After the tribe elected him tribal vice chair, a hearing was scheduled on whether Bills has Indian blood. Tribal chair Glenn Wasson was to preside and was expected to oppose Bills’ membership. Wasson was murdered before the meeting could be held (“Murder of a leader,” RN&R, Jan. 11, 2001), with the result that Bills served as acting chair for a time while the blood and membership issues were still in doubt.

The Winnemucca colony has posted on its website a 2011 federal court order recognizing Thomas Wasson as the tribal chair. Efforts to contact colony officials listed on the website were unsuccessful. In 2016, some business websites named Bills as chief of the Fort McDermitt tribal allotment. The Fort McDermitt reservation is 74 miles north of Winnemucca.

Over the years, Bills has re-emerged in the news occasionally, sometimes reportedly claiming to be the Winnemucca colony chair.

The website Vice, which portrayed the new dispute as officialdom trying to block legal marijuana commerce (“Somehow, the Ridiculous War on Hemp Is Still Going On,” Vice, April 10, 2018) reported that last summer, sheriff’s officers in San Joaquin County, California, came across a 26-acre “hemp farm … operated by William Bills of the Winnemucca Shoshone nation, though the farm wasn’t on the reservation, which is in Nevada. Bills had planned to start a business extracting cannabidiol, or CBD oil, the non-psychoactive cannabis chemical used as medicine by many but not recognized as one by authorities. He had rented a plot in California and partnered with a company that claimed to be a university, as well as cannabis consulting firms that tout their own research in press materials—an attempt to comply with federal and state laws that only allow hemp to be grown for research purposes.”

After the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors responded to the discovery of the hemp farm by banning such farms, the sheriff’s office uprooted and removed the plants, prompting a lawsuit on behalf of the Winnemucca colony against the supervisors, county counsel, district attorney, sheriff and the Drug Enforcement Administration. We were unable to learn if colony officers knew of the lawsuit.