Akwesasne territory prepares for marijuana sales on NY side

Updated: Mar. 30, 2021 at 2:00 PM EDT
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AKWESASNE, N.Y. (WWNY) - Marijuana is already being sold on Akwesasne territory on the Canadian side. With New York set to legalize its use, they’re just about ready on the U.S. side.

A casino. Smoke shops. Native-American arts and crafts. All draw people to Akwesasne on the U.S. side. And soon enough, they’ll add another attraction: marijuana.

“It’s a no brainer. It’s definitely going to bring a bunch of jobs. I think it will be something new and inventive for the community,” said Scott Thompson, owner, Crossroads Tobacco and Budders Quickstop.

Thompson has been in the marijuana business for 4 months on the Canadian side. He says his Crossroads Tobacco on the U.S. side would be a perfect location for a second shop.

“Once the tribe gets rolling on getting the business on this side, we’re ready to go over here,” he said.

St. Regis Mohawk Tribe members voted in favor of recreational marijuana in 2019. The tribe plans to have regulations ready for when sales can start in New York.

“There’s certainly interest to move forward with this venture,” said Brendan White, St. Regis Mohawk Tribe communications director.

The tribe will hold public meetings before regulations are adopted.

Would-be pot sellers there know they’ll be competing against those in communities outside Akwesasne. But, they definitely feel they’ll have a leg up.

There could be a possible tax advantage. That’s how cigarettes here are sold at a deep discount. Akwesasne also feels it has experience would-be competitors don’t.

“That is going to be the advantage that we have – to be able to understand what worked for the Canadian stores and what didn’t work,” said Joseph Bowen, Akwesasne Chamber of Commerce treasurer.

Sales are not expected in New York until next year to give the state time to develop regulations.

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