Native American Communities in New York City Consider Entering the Recreational Marijuana Business
Long Island's Shinnecock Indian Nation plans to build a marijuana grow op with the intention of starting sales sometime this year, while the Mohawk St. Regis tribe in upstate New York has proposed an ordinance to regulate the legal use of cannabis for adults, according to the Syracuse Post-Standard , Newsday and the Palttsburgh Press Repubilcain.
At least one other community, the Oneida Nation of India in central New York State, is said to be investigating the issue. Some of the state's Native American nations already cultivate medical marijuana or are active in the legal industrial hemp business.
New York's new law on recreational marijuana does not specifically address the issue of sovereign Indian lands, Heather Trela, a member of the Rockefeller Institute of SUNY Albany and expert on marijuana policy, told the Post-Standard.
“It's a bit obscure,” she said, “like a lot of things in legalization”.
But she said tribal communities would appear to have the right under federal law to legally grow and sell marijuana on their lands.
If so, Native American communities could be the first to sell recreational marijuana in the state, including to non-Native Americans. But non-Native Americans will only be able to purchase the legal amount and will not be able to transport any, Trela said.
Industry experts also predict that commercial sales of recreational marijuana in New York City are unlikely to begin for 12 to 18 months.