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WIRE: Long Island Shinnecock tribe votes to join medical cannabis industry

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. — In a historic vote among its members this weekend, the Shinnecock Indian Nation voted in support of plans to construct a medical cannabis cultivation facility and dispensary on tribal land near Southampton.


Tribal members voted 71% (83) to 29% (34) to approve the project and pursue designation from the State of New York as a provider for patients in the state’s Medical Cannabis Program.

“As a people, we have always had a cultural appreciation for natural, holistic medicine and the difference it can make in the lives of those suffering most,” said Bryan Polite, Chairman of the Shinnecock Indian Nation. “The New York State Compassionate Care Act was a big step in the right direction for administering quality holistic medicine to people suffering from very serious illnesses.”

“We also recognize this is an opportunity to create jobs for our members and true economic development to support tribal programs. We are encouraged by the enthusiastic support of our members and look forward to continuing our discussions with the State of New York to make this a reality.”

On Jan. 1, New York became the 23rd state to allow the medical use of cannabis. The state approved five companies to produce it and 20 dispensaries to distribute it to roughly 125,000 New Yorkers diagnosed with a specific group of illnesses. Advocates have called for an expansion of the list of approved illnesses, while also saying there are not enough dispensaries to adequately serve patients.

Shinnecock interest in the industry came after a December 2014 memo issued by the U.S. Department of Justice outlined their position on federal jurisdiction in states where cannabis – still a federally-illegal substance – has been approved for medical use.

Since then, at least 15 tribes across the U.S. have explored entering or have already entered the medical cannabis industry. Shinnecock leaders consulted with legal experts, industry officials and others before conducting several tribal meetings on the issue and then presenting the idea to its members for a vote.

Under the Shinnecock plan, all facilities will be tribally-owned. Industry consultants would be hired to provide the necessary training to tribal members to take leadership roles in the management and operation of the facilities. Revenues generated by the project would go toward tribal operations, including education, substance abuse programs, law enforcement and senior housing.

The Council of Trustees has outlined their plans with state assemblymen and officials with the New York Department of Health, as well as state and local law enforcement.

SOURCE Shinnecock Indian Nation

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