Saint Regis becomes first New York tribe to legalize recreational cannabis sales

A New York Native American tribe has announced that legal sales of recreational cannabis are slated to begin “soon”. 

The “St. Regis Mohawk Reservation” a Mohawk Indian reservation in Franklin County recently signed off on a tribal ordinance that will enable tribal members to establish adult-use cannabis businesses.

Located close to the Canadian border in New York’s upstate district, the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation in Akwesasne are excited to share their plans after the authorization of recreational cannabis commerce occurred three years ago. 

Adult-use cannabis commerce and merchandising was given the seal of approval following a successful tribal vote in 2019. Now that cannabis is legal across the State of New York legalization was enacted in March tribal “cannapreneurs” are finally being given the opportunity to launch a business. 

Individual tribe members can launch cannabis business in New York

During a recent interview with WWTI Watertown virtual television station reporters, members of the tribal council revealed their plans to offer cannabis business licenses to individual members; as opposed to giving each business a “tribally owned” status. 

Over the last two years, industry regulations have been hashed out by the New York Native American tribe. Included in the regulations is a section on product quality assurance, which is essential for ensuring consumer safety.

Although cannabis retailers in the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation haven’t opened their doors just yet, a spokesman for the tribal community claims that a handful of sellers have ignored instruction and kick-started adult-use sales.

In an effort to curb rule-breaking, New York’s Mohawk Indian reservation “filed civil actions” against several illegally operating tribal cannabis businesses on July 1. 

The case, which was filed in Tribal Court, demanded business closures before July 1; failure to close meant that those businesses were prohibited from participating in the legal market.

Moreover, tribal business owners were forced to pay a $1,000 fine for each day that they breached cease-and-desist orders.

New York predicted to generate $245 million in annual cannabis revenue by 2024

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) put his signature on a bill to legalize cannabis for adult-use purposes back in March. According to official estimates, the state is expected to generate $245 million in annual legal cannabis revenue by the year 2024. 

Amid an economic glut caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, state officials are attracted by the prospect of a multi-million dollar adult-use cannabis market transpiring across the state, which is home to some 20 million people.

“Cannabis legalization will create more than 60,000 new jobs, spurring $3.5 billion in economic activity and generating an estimated $300 million in tax revenue when fully implemented,” reads a January statement from the governor’s office.

Program implementation is financially supported by the tax revenue earned through New York’s cannabis sales. An additional 40 percent is allocated for schools via the state lottery fund, 40 percent for community reinvestments, and 20 percent for drug treatment services and public education.