Native Americans Open New York’s First Legal Cannabis Dispensaries
New Yorkers craving (legal) cannabis flowers or THC gummies won’t need to leave New York State to find them. In fact, Native Americans already operate some of the state’s first legal cannabis retail stores on tribal lands.
In accordance with regulations enforced by their tribal governments, Native American entrepreneurs have successfully opened upstate cannabis dispensaries, NBC New York reports. As long as dispensaries are located on federally recognized sovereign tribal lands, they are considered legal according to New York officials and do not need to be licensed by the state. Cannabis remains illegal under federal law, although 18 states and Washington DC have now legalized recreational sales.
Although New York legalized recreational cannabis over a year ago, final regulations have yet to be announced. They are expected to arrive this summer as part of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, which would finally allow legal dispensaries to open in New York and other major cities. Authorities recently announced that the first state licenses would go to people with previous cannabis convictions or their family members.
New legal cannabis stores are growing rapidly on Native American lands. On the border with Canada, the Mohawk reservation of St. Regis is already home to many operating stores, while the Cayuga Nation reportedly sells cannabis products at two locations in the Finger Lakes. According to NBC New York, additional stores have opened in Seneca territory in western New York.
In the near future, more dispensaries and stores are expected to open in Native American territory, the result of enterprising Native Americans who sought to be the first to enter the nascent cannabis market. A new “supermarket” will open in Mohawk Territory in mid-April, and the Cayuga Nation and Shinnecock Indian Nation are working to open grow spaces in their respective Finger Lakes and eastern Long Island territories near the Hamptons. .
“I think it’s a relief valve for our visitors, our friends, our families,” William Roger Jock, a partner at the Good Leaf dispensary on the Mohawk tribal land called Akwesasne, told NBC. “We’ve been trampled on for so long and for something like this to happen, it’s almost liberating.”