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The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe Opening New York's First Legal Adult-use Cannabis Shop

The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe is poised to open the first adult-use cannabis shop in New York State, beating out the non-tribal retailers by up to a year…or more.

The tribe, located in northern New York along the U.S.-Canada border, adopted its own ordinance regarding legal marijuana last month, following New York state’s April 1 legalization.

How and why

Their ordinance went further than the state’s law, created under the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), by setting up rules for growing and processing cannabis, licensing retail shops and declaring that everything, from seed to sale, must take place on tribal territory.

The plan includes licensing tribal entrepreneurs, rather than running the businesses themselves. The tribal council has already received more than a dozen applications to be reviewed and issued by a tribal cannabis control board, reported Syracuse.com.

“We want to ensure that our community is prepared to utilize this opportunity to support our local entrepreneurs’ efforts to help diversify our local economy and support community programs and services through tribal licensing fees,” the St. Regis tribe said in a statement.

What's happening in NY?

Meanwhile, New York state’s much-anticipated legalization process is at a standstill, despite several public companies champing at the bit, including Curaleaf (OTCQX:CURLF), Columbia Care (OTCQX:CCHWF), Cresco Labs (OTCQX:CRLBF), Vireo Health (OTCQX:VREOF) and Green Thumb Industries (CSE: GTII) (OTCQX: GTBIF).

New York's Legislature ended its 2021 session in June without receiving nominations from Gov. Cuomo’s office, acting on appointments to the Cannabis Control Board, or hiring staff for the Office of Cannabis Management. Unless lawmakers convene a special session at some point this year, cannabis licensing could be pushed into late-2022 or even 2023.

Domestic, dependent nations

The ability of Indian nations to set their own rules and laws is rooted in their sovereign status, and are considered by federal law to be "domestic, dependent nations."

As such, nations like the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe are federally recognized, but of course, cannabis is not. Its status under federal law remains illegal, which means marijuana cannot cross state or international lines.

With adult-use cannabis legal in New York and the state on course to become one of the largest markets in the country (or the world) tribal pot shops stand to do a brisk business while the rest of the state remains tied up in what Politico refers to as “political jockeying over leadership of the state’s fledgling cannabis industry.”

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