Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe taking applications for cannabis retail licences

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The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe (SRMT) in New York is hoping the issuing of Tribal Cannabis Retail Licences will lead to the establishment of a legal industry, which will then, in turn, fund local essential services, such as education and elder support.

The tribe first announced in July that it would allow for local entrepreneurs to grow and sell their own cannabis plants and products. That news came after the state of New York legalized the recreational use of cannabis earlier in March. It’s not expected to issue retail licences for another 18 months to sell cannabis, however.

The issue of establishing a legal cannabis industry has long been the subject of debate in Akwesasne. A community referendum conducted in December 2019 revealed 76 per cent of SRMT members approved the establishing of a legal cannabis industry.

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

According to a press release issued by the tribe last week, the industry would support community programs and tribal services, such as the fuel oil burner service cleaning program and the heating equipment repair replacement program.

These two programs, which assist tribal members, had a significant budget reduction due to funding shortfalls in the tribal general fund. The cannabis industry could, therefore, alleviate some of the financial strain that those programs, among others, face, according to the release.

“We continue to take this time to thank community members for contributing to the regulation’s development, as well as for individual’s patience in obtaining a retail licence under tribal law,” said Tribal Chief Ron LaFrance. “Tribally licensed cannabis retailers will have an opportunity to make their products available in advance of state-licensed businesses.”

The tribe began taking applications for the licences on Monday. These are available to pick up during normal business hours at the SRMT compliance office, located at 28 Okwarine Rd., in Akwesasne, N.Y.

“Those who complete and return the retail licence applications can expect to hear back on their application’s status within two weeks,” reads a release issued by the SRMT.

The retail licence applications are for individuals who have already submitted an Adult Use Cannabis Business PreClearance Form. Those interested may still complete and return the pre-clearance form to the Compliance Department before receiving the retail application.

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