New York Native Americans are ready to get into the legal weed business
Less than a month after Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the long-awaited adult cannabis law in New York, several indigenous tribal nations are announcing their own plans to join the game.
Adult New Yorkers are now legally allowed to own up to three ounces of weed, but legal retail sales are not set to begin until December 2022. Tribal nations, however, are not required to obey the state’s weed laws, and at least one nation believes they can beat the rest of the state to the limit.
The Shinnecock Indian Nation on Long Island has just announced that they want to lay the foundation for a brand new cannabis grow facility in the next few weeks. Ideally, the tribe is hoping to start selling recreational pots in late 2021, at least a year before sales start operating in the rest of the state.
In northern New York, the Saint Regis Mohawks also have their own cannabis plans in mind. Currently, this nation bans recreational herbs, and the tribal government has actually just sent cease and desist letters to several illegal pot pharmacies operating on their land. However, in a recent press release, the tribe said they were working on a new regulation to eventually legalize adult sales.
“The tribe is currently in consultation with members of the tribe on the development of an adult marijuana regulation,” the tribe said in a press release, the press republican said. This ordinance would legalize and regulate the cultivation, processing and sale of weeds for adults under tribal jurisdiction. Royalties and taxes would be used to fund community programs and other services for the benefit of the entire tribe.
The Saint Regis Mohawks are still debating this proposal and have not released a timeframe for retail sales to begin. However, the tribe advises that “any sale or commercial activity involving recreational marijuana prior to obtaining a license is in violation of tribal law and is subject to enforcement measures.”
And in Central New York, the Oneida Indian Nation is reportedly considering the idea of creating its own adult retail market, but has yet to make a final decision on the matter.
It’s entirely possible that one or more of these strains could start selling weeds before the state officially allows retail sales, but is that even legal? According to cannabis policy expert Heather Treja, the answer is not entirely clear. “It’s a little cloudy like a lot of other things,” she told Syracuse.com.
New York Cannabis Law doesn’t address the issue of Native American land marijuana sales, but federal law gives tribal nations the right to create their own weed laws. Treja believes it would be legal for New Yorkers to buy weeds in tribal areas and take them home as long as they meet the three-ounce limit imposed by state law.
Across the United States, more and more Native American nations are starting their own legal weed markets. Earlier this week, the Crow Tribe in Montana announced plans to legalize adult sales, and the Oglala Sioux Tribe in South Dakota and the Bay Mills Indian Community in Michigan gave the go-ahead for legal pots to be sold last year. Many other tribal nations have legalized medical cannabis as well, which could ease their transition into the adult market.