AKWESASNE — On Monday, the St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Council adopted an ordinance that regulates the growth and sale of cannabis for adult use.
Tribal members age 21 or older may now grow and maintain up to 12 cannabis plants in their own homes.
Additionally, the ordinance lays out the process for applying for cannabis cultivation, processing and dispensary licenses; establishes a five-member SRMT Cannabis Control Board to oversee and supervise the SRMT Cannabis Compliance Office; and prohibits cannabis businesses that opened prematurely from obtaining licenses under the ordinance if they do not shut down by July 1.
The regulations additionally require that the cannabis program be “seed to sale,” meaning growing, processing and sales must take place on tribal territory.
“It would have been easier to follow the practice of other tribes and make this a tribally-owned business, but we have and will continue to support the entrepreneurs in our community,” Tribal Chief Michael Conners said in a statement.
“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.”
A December 2019 referendum drew strong support from voters — 76% — for approving the legalization of adult use cannabis under tribal regulations, a press release said.
According to the tribe, the cannabis ordinance is historic as it represents the first adult use cannabis law adopted by a tribe in New York State and is the first in the country that licenses tribal members and tribal member-owned businesses.
Per federal requirements, the tribe had to wait until New York State legalized adult use cannabis before adopting the tribal law. That occurred in March.
The tribe additionally “had to prepare and adopt strict regulations that protect the health and safety of its members and prevents the illegal diversion of cannabis,” the release said.
Tribal Chief Eric Thompson acknowledged that a handful of tribal members prematurely opened cannabis businesses, an issue the tribe is 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,” Thompson added.
“Approved and tested products will soon be available at tribally licensed stores, which customers can trust as being a safe product that is being regulated in a socially responsible manner. The Compliance Department has already had 24 tribal members pick up the preclearance application forms.”
Tribal Chief Beverly Cook said some next steps include getting licenses approved, setting up the cannabis exchange and obtaining the services of an approved testing company.
The tribe is working with Cannabis Public Policy Consultants to work through the process.
A callout for two tribal members interested in serving on the five-member SRMT Cannabis Control Board as well as for two alternates will be issued in the coming weeks.