Indigenous tribes dominate the legal cannabis market in New York

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Native-owned dispensaries are thriving across the state. Here’s how tribes across the state are clamoring for New York’s next big industry.


More than a year after the state legislature passed a legalization bill, New York’s Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) says it’s on track to open about 20 dispensaries. to launch the adult use market before the end of the year. In the meantime, state regulators and law enforcement agencies have mostly turned a blind eye as a “gray market” has filled the void in legal stores.

While incumbents, convicted cannabis residents and out-of-state operations have dominated discussions about the future of New York’s multi-billion dollar cannabis plans, another group is quietly taking advantage of the small window Without Government Interference: Indigenous operators including the Oneida, Shinecock and Seneca Nations now have their own legal shops and are poised for long-term prosperity in the marketplace.

“What’s happening on tribal lands right now is beyond our jurisdiction. It is their land.

Chris Alexander, director of the New York State Office of Cannabis Management

Once the state begins allowing licensed cannabis operators to open next month, a gray market crackdown could be imminent. But indigenous operators exist in a unique legal situation that comes with a certain sovereignty. State cannabis laws do not apply on reservation land.

“Dispensaries (marijuana stores) are legal if they are on federally recognized sovereign tribal land,” the New York Office of Cannabis Management said in a December 2021 statement.

“Because we don’t need a state license, because we don’t need state permission to enter the industry, we are a real, authentic cannabis company. Native American… This business will not only provide jobs and establish careers in an industry, but also have business-to-business exchanges with other tribe members.

Chenae Bullock, general manager of Shinnecock-owned company Little Beach Harvest

From Long Island to the New York-Canada border, these seven Indigenous-owned cannabis farms are firmly rooting themselves in New York’s nascent cannabis industry.

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The Good Leaf Dispensary in Salamanca, NY

“We have a place to lodge you, we have weed to smoke.”

Jay John

Jay John and his father Ross John run the Good Leaf dispensary in Salamanca and hope to one day open a hotel accommodating 420 people. Salamanca is the only U.S. municipality that leases land to natives, according to a recent Good Leaf New York Times profile.

For now, the dispensary is impressing customers with menu items like Rez Rockets, oil and crystal coated pre-rolls that will take you to space for $25. Good Leaf’s long-term plans include cannabis-related tourism offerings, like winery tours and hotels with drinking lounges. They also want to shuttle between the hotel and the casino, authorize 420 guest rooms and organize video game tournaments.

Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe

Pictured left at the Higher Ground cannabis dispensary ribbon cutting.  (Photo: Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe)
Pictured left at the Higher Ground cannabis dispensary ribbon cutting. (Photo: Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe)

Just where the Canadian border meets the northern tip of New York, the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe oversees dozens of tribally licensed dispensaries. And many unlicensed operators are also getting in on the action.

Unlicensed operators are controversial within the community. Some tribal leaders have condemned members opening dispensaries without approval. Leaders argued in tribal court that unauthorized operations deprive the entire tribe, including elders and children, of capital for health care and education.

To find out if a dispensary is licensed by the tribe, contact the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe Cannabis Control Commission website, call (518) 358-2272 ext. 2167, or email [email protected]

Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe Licensed Cannabis Sellers

So far, 16 licensed retailers and five growers have been licensed by the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe. See the full list of retailers and their locations here, or scan below.

  • Budders Cannabis Store LLC, located at 508 State Route 37
  • King Canna, located at 8 Raquette Point Road
  • Weedway, located at 935 State Route 37
  • Dank Bank, located at 25 Water Street, Fort Covington
  • Not Another Pot Store, located at 76 Beaver Meadow Road
  • Diamond Dispensary, located at 147A Raquette Point Road
  • Exotika Dispensary, located at 227 State Route 37
  • Prime Cannabis, located at 1600 State Route 37
  • Higher Ground Cannabis Co, located at 300 State Route 37
  • Sovereign Retail, located at 8 State Route 37, Suite 1
  • Green Reserve Dispensary, located at 484 State Route 37
  • Crossroads Cannabis, located at 612 State Route 37
  • Lawless & Co., located at 1744 State Route 37
  • Roach Coach, located at 580 State Route 37
  • Belushi Farms, located at 987 State Route 37
  • Sovereign Retail, located at 2381
  • Chateaugay Street, Fort Covington

Shinnecock Nation

Chenae Bullock (center), director of Little Beach Harvest, inaugurates the future site of the country's cannabis dispensary and wellness center, with members of TILT Holdings and the Shinnecock Tribe, July 11, 2022.
Chenae Bullock (center), director of Little Beach Harvest, inaugurates the future site of the country’s cannabis dispensary and wellness center, with members of TILT Holdings and the Shinnecock Tribe, July 11, 2022. (TILT / Shinnecock)

Located on tribal territory on Long Island, the sprawling Shinnecock Nation has opened a 5,000 square foot dispensary slated to open in early 2023.

The Little Beach Harvest dispensary will be aided by the management services of TILT Holdings, but will be 100% owned by Shinnecock. TILT will add $18 million to help build a seed-for-sale operation that includes a dispensary, wellness center and a 60,000 square foot cultivation, processing, extraction and packaging facility. The Long Island operation will be right next to Southampton (the Hamptons), an affluent vacation spot.

“What we do with this sacred plant will heal not only the Shinnecock community, but people around the world.”

Chenae Bullock, small beach crop

Cayuga Nation

In central New York, the Cayuga Nation allows its members to sell cannabis at the tribe’s many gas stations. They also have plans for a beautiful new dispensary near Syracuse and Lake Cayuga.

“As a sovereign nation, the Cayuga Nation can cultivate and sell cannabis within the boundaries of its reservation…Our vision for the future of the Cayuga Nation remains focused on improving the lives of our members, our community and our neighbours…As we venture into our economic development, we remain committed to working closely with local governments to ensure the health and safety of our community.

Cayuga Nation officials via public statement

The OCM “has the ability to enter into agreements with the tribes through tribal compacts to bring them into the state program if all parties can agree on the terms”, although no agreement of this type does not yet exist.

As of November 2021, the Cayuga Nation sells marijuana from the Lakeside Trading business in the village of Union Springs, with locations at 3202 E. Bayard St Seneca Falls, NY and 271 Cayuga St Union Springs, NY.

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Oneida Nation

The Oneida already operate the Turning Stone casino and resort near Utica, and the tribe recently said it would open dispensaries after completing a 50,000 square foot cultivation and production facility. The tribe plans to officially launch by 2023, but has opted not to sell openly on the gray market until its operation is fully operational.

Sales will be regulated by the Oneida Indian Nation Cannabis Commission, an independent body that oversees safety and compliance. It all started with a 2013 settlement agreement between New York City and the Oneida Indian Nation and neighboring Oneida and Madison counties. Taxes will go to the tribe, instead of the state to fund public safety, health care, affordable housing, education and cultural preservation. The Oneida Nation Cannabis Commission also enforces age restrictions, purchase limits, licensing requirements, and safety safeguards.

NJ's first dispensaries open this month (Getty Images)
Each of the 13 approved facilities must pass a CRC site assessment, pay licensing fees and receive their official license before opening their doors to all adults. (Getty Images)

Seneca Nation

Seneca Nation territories cover nearly 53,000 acres in five New York counties. Tribal officials estimate there are 100 active dispensaries in the tribe’s Cattaraugus and Allegany territories, which serve medical patients and adult-use shoppers who travel to New York City to escape the laws and prohibitive prices of Pennsylvania.

New York counties like Cattaraugus County, which reportedly waived allowing dispensaries on their borders, are also sending customers directly to Native-owned operations that are reclaiming a piece of the American dream that was built on their loss and their suffering.

You can find more information about the Seneca Nation’s long-term cannabis plans here. The tribe’s website currently lists applications and regulations for hemp growers. Leaders also require certificates of analysis (COA) from laboratory testing to protect customers and improve quality.

“We try to differentiate ourselves from everyone else. New York State, for example, does not share any information with you about its test results,” said Mike, an operator at 420 Rez Bud, a new tribal dispensary in western New York. “We already do more than them by providing strain genetics and information on how they were bred, and if they want to know who they are bred by, we know who they are and we have files for everything. “, Mike told Cannabuff this year. .

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