Marijuana stores are popping up in unexpected places all over New York state; in the case of Native lands, tribal members have taken matters into their own hands, creating a functioning marijuana business that’s exempt from the state’s law. This means that marijuana shops are popping up in unorthodox locations, including gas stations, which are coming up with deals like handing out a joint per every 10 gallons of gas sold.
The New York Times reports that this phenomenon is occurring in different locations with different tribes getting a jump on the legal cannabis market, even though state dispensary applications are in the process of earning approval.
New York state legalized marijuana in March 2021, creating a state of confusion as they geared up for a functioning legal market. Some tribes have taken the green light of legalization to create marijuana markets of their own, which are then supported by their tribal governments, which have created rules and regulations to support the nascent business.
These tribes are located in different areas of the state, from the Canadian border to smaller tribes on Long Island. Businesses that have popped up in gas stations tend to operate in the back of the building and have become a source of income for tribal governments, free of the state’s influence, at least for the time being.
“Because we don’t need a license from the state, because we don’t have to have permission to enter in the industry from the state, we are a true, authentic Native American cannabis business,” said Chenae Bullock, a member of the Shinnecock tribe and manager of Little Beach Harvest the tribe’s leading marijuana business. “This business is going to not only provide jobs, and establish careers in an industry, but also have business-to-business with other tribal members.”
Unlike other marijuana businesses that have gotten a headstart on cannabis, marijuana businesses on tribal lands are not subject to the state’s Office of Cannabis Management (OCM). “What’s happening on tribal lands right now, it’s outside our purview,” said Chris Alexander, director of the OCM.
While many have criticized the slow pace of the OCM, taking months to start accepting applications for dispensaries, Alexander disagrees and says that he’s proud of the progress the organization has made and how quickly they’ve been in taking in applications.