Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe becomes first NYS tribe to legalize marijuana for adult use

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AKWESASNE (WWTI) — The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe has legalized marijuana for adult use.

On Monday, June 28, the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Council signed Tribal Council Resolution 2021-33 and adopted the Adult Use Cannabis Ordinance as a tribal law.

The Ordinance followed a Tribal Referendum held in December 2019 that approved the legalization of adult use cannabis under tribal regulations. At that time, 76% of tribal voters approved the regulation’s development and eventual adoption.

According to the Tribal Council, this adoption is considered “historic” as it represents the first adult use cannabis law adopted by a tribe in New York State and the first in the Country that licenses tribal members and tribal member-owned businesses.

“It would have been easier to follow the practice of other tribes and made this a tribally owned business, but we have and will continue to support the entrepreneurs in our community,” stated Tribal Chief Michael Conners. “We have many tribal member entrepreneurs and we want to give them the opportunity to help develop this industry for the benefit of the community.”

Under federal requirements, prior to adopting the tribal law, the SRMT had to wait until New York State first legalized adult use cannabis. This occurred on March 31, 2021.

Additionally, the Tribe had to prepare and adopt strict health and safety regulations that would prevemnt the illegal diversion of cannabis.

“We know that a handful of tribal members have prematurely opened, this is an issue we are working through and are seeking to resolve. We appreciate those entrepreneurs who have been patient and who know that tribal processes must be followed to ensure the regulations are completed in a responsible manner with community input,” added Tribal Chief Eric Thompson.

Thompson also confirmed that approved and tested products will soon be available at tribally licensed stores in Akwesasne.

Feedback and recommendations from the SRMT community were incorporated into a final version of the Adult Use Cannabis Ordinance. This includes:

  • Adult Tribal Members, at least 21-years old, may grow and maintain up to 12 cannabis plants in their own residences;
  • Tribe to begin accepting the first round of applications for cannabis licenses for all licenses
  • A “Tribal Cannabis Exchange” is established to facilitate the collection of fees, testing and availability of cultivated cannabis to retail stores. The Exchange will be administered by the tribal regulating office, the SRMT Cannabis Compliance Office that is overseen and supervised by a new five-member board, the SRMT Cannabis Control Board;
  • The SRMT cannabis program is a “seed to sale” program — growing, processing, and sales all must take place on Tribal Territory;
  • Businesses that have prematurely opened are currently subject to cease and desist orders and tribal court actions will be given one “last chance” to comply with the Ordinance. If they fail to comply (i.e. shut down their operations) by Thursday, July 1st they, and their owners and operators, will not be able to obtain a license under the Ordinance.

A callout for two tribal members interested in serving on the five-member SRMT Cannabis Control Board will be issued in the coming weeks.

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