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Feb 8, 2016 10:29 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Shinnecock Nation Could Grow Medical Marijuana And Build Dispensary On Reservation

The Shinnecock Indian Nation will grow and process medical marijuana, as well as build a dispensary on reservation land by the end of the year.
Feb 11, 2016 1:36 PM

The Shinnecock Indian Nation plans to grow and process medical marijuana, as well as build a dispensary on reservation land, by the end of 2016, pending approval from the state, tribal officials said this week.

The tribe’s general council on Saturday approved a measure that allows the tribe to pursue state designation as a medical marijuana provider, and also to construct both a cultivation facility and a dispensary on the reservation. The vote was approved 71 percent to 29 percent.

Tribal Trustee Chairman Bryan Polite said the ordinance is “coextensive” with the New York State Compassionate Care Act, meaning that the tribe must abide by state regulations. The law, which was enacted in 2014, allows medical marijuana use in New York State for certified patients with specifically designated medical conditions. It also requires each potential patient to have a medical marijuana registry identification card, and mandates that the drug must be dispensed only in liquid, oil or capsule form. The Compassionate Care Act does not permit the use of medical marijuana by smoking.

“It is a vehicle for us to enter into the medical cannabis industry,” Mr. Polite said of the tribe’s approval of the initiative, adding that the Shinnecocks have been researching the feasibility of growing medical marijuana and distributing the drug since May 2015. “We still have a lot of work to do with coordination and consultation with New York State officials, and once we get that taken care of, we can actually provide medicine to patients who are certified for medical cannabis.”

The prospect of operating a medical marijuana facility on Native American lands was made possible by a 2014 federal memorandum, called the Cole Memorandum, which is what first sparked the tribe’s interest. The memo explains how the legalization of marijuana in several states affects Native American tribes that would like to establish medical marijuana programs in those states.

It notes several restrictions that tribes must follow on the federal level, including ensuring that the distribution of the drug to minors is prevented, as well ensuring that revenue from marijuana sales does not go to criminal enterprises.

State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. said Monday that representatives of the tribe came to his Albany office earlier this month and explained their plans for their medical marijuana project. As long as the Shinnecocks meet the regulations set forth by the Compassionate Care Act, he said, the state cannot deny the tribe approval.

“When you are federally recognized, if something is permitted in the state, you can do it on the reservation also, but you have to follow the same rules,” Mr. Thiele noted. “From my perspective, we have made medical marijuana legal in the state, and the Shinnecocks have every right to approve this.”

The state’s medical marijuana program allows for only five applicant organizations to be registered to both manufacture and dispense the drug. However, that does not apply to the Shinnecocks, because they are a sovereign nation, Mr. Thiele said. Although the state has not yet officially approved the project, once the Shinnecocks supply all of the necessary information, “I wouldn’t expect it to be a lengthy turnaround from the state,” the assemblyman added.

Last month, Columbia Care New York opened Suffolk County’s first medical marijuana dispensary in downtown Riverhead. It also has dispensaries in New York City, Plattsburgh and Rochester. However, across the entire state, there are only 20 dispensaries, which has been the subject of intense criticism by medical marijuana supporters.

Governor Andrew Cuomo only approved New York’s medical marijuana program, which is more stringent than those in several other states, with several security stipulations. One of those allows him the authority to close an operation if he deems that it is a threat to public safety.

As part of the tribal ordinance, there will be a cannabis regulatory division to oversee those aspects of the project, as well as a company chartered by the tribe to oversee the construction of the facilities and the entrepreneurial aspects of the project, Mr. Polite said.

Both the cultivation and dispensary facilities, which will measure 32,000 and 1,200 square feet, respectively, will cost millions of dollars to construct. Mr. Polite declined to disclose who would fund the construction of the facility, only stating that it would be a “private investor.”

He did note that the complex will meet and even exceed the security protocols detailed in the Compassionate Care Act. To aid in that endeavor, the Shinnecocks have hired Hillard Heintze, an investigation and security risk management company in Chicago, to oversee, advise and draft a security plan for the facilities.

The plan will include three separate zones for security around both the outer and inner perimeters of the property and buildings, and at every door inside the facilities. There will also be two 8-foot-tall security fences. Additional security features include access control panels that would be installed on each door in the buildings, and a two-tier identification system requiring that employees punch in a PIN number while the system reviews their biometrics before they enter the facility.

Mr. Polite said the tribe plans to allow a law enforcement agency to have 24-hour access to the security cameras around the facilities, although that agency has not yet been determined. “There is also extensive background checks of our employees,” he added.

The Shinnecocks expect that the entire project, which should be completed by the end of this year, will create between 80 and 100 jobs and generate a significant amount of revenue for the tribe. The revenue will ultimately go toward substance abuse prevention and educational programs, tribal officials said.

“Patients who are certified in the Compassionate Care Act will be able to have access to the same quality products that New York State is administering at our pharmacy as well,” Mr. Polite said. “The Council of Trustees and the Shinnecock Nation [are] committed to doing this in a responsible way. That is, that could enhance and augment the Compassionate Care Act by allowing more access to those people who need it under the Compassionate Care Act.”

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What can go wrong. Where's my popcorn......
By H2O (85), easthampton on Feb 8, 16 10:57 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By sandydog21 (195), Southampton on Feb 8, 16 12:17 PM
Didn't take long for the ignorant, uneducated, bordering on racist comments.
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Feb 8, 16 1:30 PM
1 member liked this comment
Brilliant idea! An historically squared-away neighborhood for growing! ....any room for a state police annex?
By Lets go mets (377), Southampton on Feb 8, 16 4:25 PM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Feb 8, 16 5:30 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By watchdog1 (543), Southampton on Feb 8, 16 6:33 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By hendrixexperience (6), East Quogue on Feb 8, 16 7:54 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By JohnSmith (25), Johnson City, Tennessee on Feb 8, 16 10:14 PM
Damn Native Americans, ruining that beautiful piece of land us REAL locals gave to them, FOR FREE! Why can't they just do what we tell them to do? It isn't like we've ever lied to them, and they just keep getting into trouble with our puritanical laws anyway...
By Brandon Quinn (191), Hampton Bays on Feb 9, 16 1:09 AM
Lol can't wait to take your home
By shlady09 (14), southampton on Feb 9, 16 10:48 PM
Lol, I was being facetious and defending the Shinnecock from this bigot, stupid.
By Brandon Quinn (191), Hampton Bays on Feb 11, 16 8:00 PM
Now here is a sustainable economic development model: Sell cigarettes to people who get cancer and then sell them marijuana to treat nausea and vomiting from cancer chemotherapy.
By Toma Noku (616), Southampton on Feb 8, 16 11:26 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By C Law (354), Water Mill on Feb 9, 16 4:39 AM
This is posative news,and a gas station is another great suggestion,will ther be sampleing room for the pot annd perhaps tours of the facelity,this will be a boome for that area of Southampton
By The Grapevine (3), Hampton Bays on Feb 9, 16 1:37 PM
The should have listened to me years ago and moved everyone on the rez to the HB Westwoods property and then made plans for a casino on the main reservation.

If they did that they would have had unimaginable bargaining power and would all be very well off by now and could build an amazing place to live at Westwood's or afford to live wherever they choose
Feb 9, 16 3:07 PM appended by joe hampton
A few years living in RVs on the beach would not have been so bad and assured them that they could have written there own ticket and made a fortune
By joe hampton (3461), on vacation on Feb 9, 16 3:07 PM
Thanks for the positivity Joe Hampton much appreciated, as opposed to the ignorant expected sarcasm that come from our anonymous neighbors. Speak up in person folks lol I'm sure you all know at least one Shinnecoc Tribal member smh Cowards, well then again you have a reason to be. Once we have the revenue to do so you'll all be homeless! Or renting from the Nation. goodday
By shlady09 (14), southampton on Feb 9, 16 10:40 PM
And where do you plan on getting the "revenue" to do so?
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Feb 9, 16 11:46 PM
Seriously? You think some idiot proposing to take you off your land, again, and telling you what to do with it is being positive? Yikes, now I understand some of the decision making going on over there. Fighting straw men much?
By Brandon Quinn (191), Hampton Bays on Feb 11, 16 8:06 PM
I just can't see any downside to this . . . . . . .
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Feb 10, 16 8:11 AM
How about a sewer district. They can hook up the village and waterfront homes. Plenty of growth.
By harbor hound (31), southampton on Feb 10, 16 9:41 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By The Truth Hurts (4), Hampton bays on Feb 10, 16 12:20 PM
I'm feeling my glacoma starting to act up, sign me up.
By Woodpecker (8), Southampton on Feb 12, 16 8:24 AM
Can any of you rocket scientists explain with a straight face why pot is illegal to begin with?
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Feb 13, 16 1:30 PM
1 member liked this comment
Because it alters one's state of mind. Ever smoke a big fat joint and start weirding out? Get paranoid? Slow reaction time? That being said I'm for legalization but not while driving or work, surgery etc. You asked...
By lirider (288), Hampton Bays on Feb 16, 16 10:54 PM
Perhaps you smoked too much?
Feb 17, 16 7:08 AM appended by Mr. Z
FYI, according to a recently completed genetic study, negative effects and paranoia can be traced to which variation of the AKT1 gene a person has.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Feb 17, 16 7:08 AM