Saint Regis is first New York tribe to legalize recreational marijuana sales

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A Native American tribe in New York state said it has legalized recreational marijuana and will “soon” begin legal sales.

According to Watertown TV station WWTI, the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, which has a reservation near the Canadian border in upstate New York, signed off on a new tribal ordinance allowing members of the tribe to launch adult-use marijuana businesses.

Recreational marijuana sales will begin in the near future by the tribe in Akwesasne, New York.

The tribal council told WWTI that it will be licensing its own cannabis companies to individual members of the tribe instead of making the businesses tribally owned.

The ordinance follows a popular tribal vote in 2019 under which members authorized recreational marijuana commerce, but the operations launch had to wait until the state Legislature legalized adult-use cannabis, which happened in March.

The tribe spent the past two years working on industry regulations, including product quality assurance.

Fully legitimate retailers have yet to open, though a tribal spokesman acknowledged that some sellers jumped the gun and had already begun adult-use sales.

The tribe “filed civil actions” in Tribal Court on July 1 against seven illegal operators, WWTI reported, and is asking that the businesses be shut down and fined $1,000 for each day they violate cease-and-desist orders.

Under the Saint Regis Mohawk ordinance that legalized a recreational industry, businesses that began operating early had to close by July 1 or be forbidden to enter the licensed market.