New York Tribes Seek to Join State’s Newly Legal Industry

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A pair of Native American tribes plans to join New York state’s nascent recreational marijuana industry, according to recent reports.

Newsday reported earlier this month that Long Island’s Shinnecock Indian Nation would soon break ground on a marijuana facility and plans to begin selling marijuana products later this year, and last week, the Plattsburgh Press-Republican noted that the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe is considering an ordinance to authorize recreational marijuana on its land near the Canadian border.

Other tribes, Syracuse.com reports, could join them, but officials were quiet about their plans this week. Heather Trela, a marijuana policy expert and fellow at Albany’s Rockefeller Institute, told the publication that the status of tribal operations in New York is “murky.”

The tribes are likely allowed to produce marijuana on their own land under federal law and to sell it to tribal members and non-members alike. Those products, however, would be subject to state law once they leave tribal property. New York’s new marijuana law was signed in late March, but it could take up to two years for the state’s legal marketplace to take shape; the Shinnecock and Saint Regis operations could be up and running well before then, Syracuse.com noted.

Some New York tribes, the report added, already grow hemp, along with marijuana for medical purposes. The state’s hemp growers, hammered by excess supply and low prices, are reportedly eager to join the recreational marijuana market. 

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