New York tribe welcomes applications for recreational cannabis retail licenses

The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe has become the first in New York to accept applications for adult-use cannabis retail licenses. According to leaders of the Native American tribe, which is also referred to by its Mohawk name “Akwesasne,” application responses are expected within two weeks of them being filed.

Tribal members claim a segment of land close to the Canadian border in Akwesasne located a six-hour car journey north of New York City. Back in December of 2019, they approved recreational cannabis during a community referendum.

Looking to the future, the community is optimistic that legal sales will be launched as quickly as possible. However, in order for this to happen without any hindering hiccups, hopeful licensees are first required to submit a recreational cannabis business pre-clearance form.

“Unlike other tribal territories, the Tribe’s Adult Use Cannabis Ordinance provides eligible tribal members with the opportunity to help develop this new industry for the benefit of the community,” said Tribal Chief Michael Conners in an official news release. “Tribal licensing builds upon our business community’s history of keeping revenue in Akwesasne to support community programs and services.”

Oversight commission for New York’s cannabis industry has finally been developed

In separate (yet related) news, the New York Marijuana Regulatory Board has officially been completed with the governor’s final appointments.

The state’s recreational cannabis law was signed into effect by former Governor Andrew Cuomo in late March. It has taken almost seven months for the program to begin making progress in terms of an oversight commission being established; but better late than never.

On Wednesday, September 22, newly-appointed Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) revealed the names of two new Cannabis Control Board members who have been tasked with regulating the state’s adult-use cannabis market Jessica García of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, and Reuben McDaniel III of the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York. 

Following Hochul’s announcement which signifies a major stepping stone for the implementation of a cannabis legalization law that was inked by her predecessor Tribal Chief Ron LaFrance confirmed that tribally-licensed cannabis retailers will now be able to legally serve customers ahead of state-licensed companies.

Pro-cannabis governor Hochul replaces Andrew Cuomo

Hochul, who took over from former Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) following a sexual harassment scandal that led to his resignation, affirmed his support of the legislature’s passage of this year’s adult-use legalization measure. She is boldly working with leaders to steer the process in the right direction, after her predecessor was confronted with criticism regarding the stalling of appointments to discuss cannabis legislation.

“New York’s cannabis industry has stalled for far too long. I am making important appointments to set the Office of Cannabis Management up for success so they can hit the ground running,” said the governor in a press release. “I am confident Mr. McDaniel and Ms. Garcia will serve the board with professionalism and experience as we lead our state forward in this new industry.”

Based on the current law, adults aged 21 and above can possess a maximum of three ounces of cannabis or 24 grams of concentrated cannabis in New York. As per the signing of Tribal Council Resolution 2021-33 by the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Council on June 28, the Adult Use Cannabis Ordinance allows people aged 21 and older to cultivate and possess 12 cannabis plants in their private residences.