New York tribe opens applications for adult-use marijuana retail licenses

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A Native American tribe in upstate New York is taking applications for adult-use marijuana retail licenses and said it plans to respond to each application within two weeks of filing.

The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, which has a reservation near the Canadian border in Akwesasne, approved recreational marijuana in a community referendum in December 2019 and is keen on launching sales as soon as possible.

However, prospective licensees must first submit an adult-use cannabis business preclearance form if they haven’t done so already, the tribe said in a news release.

“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,” Tribal Chief Michael Conners said in the release.

“Tribal licensing builds upon our business community’s history of keeping revenue in Akwesasne to support community programs and services.”

Akwesasne is a six-hour-plus drive north from New York City.

Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed recreational marijuana into law in late March, but nearly six months later, the state program is only starting to make progress in developing its oversight commission.

Tribal Chief Ron LaFrance noted in the news release that tribally licensed cannabis retailers thus will have the opportunity to make their products available in advance of state-licensed businesses.