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Shinnecock Nation OKs developing medical marijuana program

The Shinnecock Indian Nation has approved two resolutions that will allow the tribe to move forward with an outside developer to cultivate and sell medical marijuana.

In a 83 to 34 vote Saturday, the tribe approved an ordinance paving the way for development of cultivation and dispensary facilities on the tribe’s Southampton reservation. The tribe also voted 80 to 34 to approve working with an outside firm to help develop and finance the enterprise, said Bryan Polite, chairman of the tribal trustees, the nation’s governing body.

Polite said the tribe expects to open a facility sometime this year. It would be Long Island’s third, with two operating in Lake Success and Riverhead. A spokeswoman for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Polite said the tribe hadn’t decided precisely where on the Southampton reservation the new facilities would be located. “We’re looking at different locations,” he said.

Tribal sources said the Shinnecock Nation is working on the venture with Conor Green Consulting, a Chicago-based company whose website says it is “guiding the way through the medical cannabis industry.” A call to Conor Green wasn’t returned.

The website lists two company officials, Lawrence R. Lucas and Prentice M. Salter, who are also listed as chairman and chief executive, respectively, of Conor Sports LLC., which markets social-media sports games. Salter’s online resume lists him as a former official with casino Super Resorts (Macao) Ltd., and the Venetian Macao Ltd., as well as the N9ne Group at the Palms Casino Resort.

It’s unclear whether the tribe’s work with Conor Green on the medical marijuana initiative will extend into gaming ventures. The Shinnecock tribe had worked extensively following its 2010 federal recognition to negotiate one or more casinos on Long Island and in New York City. But local politics, tribal divisions and a break with developer Gateway Casino Resorts of Detroit shelved the efforts.

More recently, the tribe is said by sources to be exploring lower-level gaming on the reservation. Polite declined to discuss the topic.

The tribe expects to have from 40 to 60 members working at the marijuana cultivation and dispensary operations, and up to 100 new jobs in total would be created.

Polite said the tribe, which has been working on a medical marijuana initiative since May, will follow and even exceed guidelines in the New York State Compassionate Care Act for regulating the business. The act, passed by the State Legislature in June 2014, legalized use of nonsmokable forms of the drug, including pills, vapors, tinctures and oils for those with specific diseases, including multiple sclerosis, cancer, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS and Lou Gehrig’s disease.

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