AKWESASNE — The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe will allow local entrepreneurs to grow and sell their own cannabis plants and products.
Akwesaronon are now able to apply to cultivate cannabis plants for commercial use, according to a Tuesday press release by the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe.
The announcement comes after New York legalized the recreational use of cannabis at the end of March. The tribe approved the use of cannabis for adults in December, with a 76 per cent vote in favour, but waited for state legalization under current laws.
“We take this time to thank individuals for their patience as we developed regulations that will help oversee the longevity and success of this new industry for the community’s benefit. More importantly, thanks to tribal members who provided feedback and input to ensure that the safety of all cannabis products is a priority,” the tribal council said in Tuesday’s press release.
The council passed the law on June 28 after holding public consultations and meetings. Unlike other First Nations across the United States, Akwesasne will be the first to offer its own members licences rather than operating tribe-owned dispensaries.
“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… 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,” said Tribal Chief Michael Conners.
Commercial licences for processing and selling cannabis will be available in mid-August. Pre-clearance forms are the first step in the process, before obtaining either a cultivation or retail licence, and have already been completed by many.
“The Compliance Department has already had 24 tribal members pick up the pre-clearance application forms,” said Tribal Chief Eric Thompson.
As the licensing process begins, the tribe has also called on all non-licensed dispensaries to close by July 1. Seven were are alleged to have passed this date.
“Regrettably, the seven dispensaries continue to operate without a tribal licence, so the only course of action was to file enforcement action in Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Court,” said a spokesperson for the tribe.
Another three have been added to the court case.
“It seeks an order from the court for the dispensaries to be closed and vacated, as well as imposing a civil fine of (US)$1,000 for each day that they failed to obey the cease and desist orders,” said the tribe.
The seven listed include: Smoke Show Dispensary; Bud Ease Dispensary; Good Leaf Dispensary; Sasta Budz Dispensary; Native Flower Dispensary, Golden Nugget Dispensary; and, Best Budz.
The new law immediately allowed members, who are at least 21, grow and use up to 12 plants in their residences, and established a Tribal Cannabis Exchange, as well as created a ‘seed-to-sale’ mandate ensuring all products are grown, harvested, and sold on the territory.
The new stores are expected to decrease non-Indigenous traffic to the northern portion of Akwesasne who come to purchase cannabis from the established dispensaries, Mohawk Council of Akwesasne Grand Chief Abram Benedict said in an interview with Akwesasne TV.