St. Regis Mohawk Tribe Files in Tribal Court to Close Unlicensed Pot Shops

NEW YORK: On Ohiarihkó:wa/July 1, 2021, three (3) days after adopting its Adult Use Cannabis Ordinance, the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe filed civil actions in Tribal Court naming seven (7) cannabis dispensaries that have illegally opened to sell recreational marijuana without being licensed or regulated from the Tribe.

The seven (7) named dispensaries located under the Tribe’s jurisdiction are: “Smoke Show Dispensary” located on 2761 State Route 95; “Bud Ease Dispensary” located at 16 McGee Road; “Good Leaf Dispensary” (property with no street address) located on State Route 37; “Sasta Budz Dispensary” at 220 State Route 37; “Native Flower Dispensary” located at 640 State Route 37; “Golden Nugget Dispensary” located at 42 Herne Road; and “Best Budz Dispensary” located at 775 State Route 37. The Tribe’s complaints allege that the dispensaries are in violation of tribal law by operating without a Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal License.

A Tribal Community Referendum held in December 2019 authorized the Tribe to legalize adult use (recreational) cannabis through the adoption of regulations that controls its commercial use, sale, processing, and cultivation on tribal territory. The rules include strict regulations on inventory control, labeling, testing and security requirements at all licensed facilities. The main purpose is to ensure the health and safety of the community, particularly our youth. Notably, the community referendum did not approve the adoption of regulations by any entity other than the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe.

On June 28, 2021 the Tribe enacted the Adult Use Cannabis Ordinance following New York’s legalization of cannabis at the end of March. The individual dispensaries proceeded to open however, and began selling cannabis after the State approved it, not waiting for the Tribe to formally adopt its own ordinance. As a result, the Tribe issued Cease and Desist Orders, which granted time for each establishment to close within thirty (30) days.

In the Adult Use Cannabis Ordinance, those dispensaries that continued to operate outside of tribal law were provided a “last chance” to close, while they submit a Tribal License Application. They were provided a deadline of Thursday, July 1, 2021 to comply and close their operation. Regrettably, the seven dispensaries continue to operate without a tribal license, so the only course of action was to file enforcement action in Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Court.

The Tribe’s Legal Complaint and accompanying Motions for Temporary, Preliminary, and Permanent Injunctions seeks enforcement of the Cease and Desist Orders in Tribal Court. It seeks an order from the Court for the dispensaries to be closed and vacated, as well as imposing a civil fine of $1,000 for each day that they failed to obey the Cease and Desist Orders.

As of today, the Tribe’s Compliance Office has reported another three (3) dispensaries have illegally opened without obtaining a tribal license. As a result, they have been served with Cease and Desist Orders and, if the dispensary owners fail to comply, the Tribe will be filing similar Complaints and Motions for Injunctions against those businesses.