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Shinnecocks vote to pursue recreational marijuana sales

Tribal chairman Bryan Polite on the Shinnecock Reservation

Tribal chairman Bryan Polite on the Shinnecock Reservation in Southampton on Feb. 17. Credit: James Carbone

The Shinnecock Indian Nation on Saturday voted overwhelmingly to approve two tribal measures that will advance their recreational marijuana programs, setting the stage for sales and usage perhaps by year’s end, a tribal official said.

The votes authorize a framework for a tribal ordinance that will set rules for commercial sales by a tribal holding company and other tribal businesses centered on recreational cannabis. That ordinance still must be drawn up and a final vote taken on it in coming months, said tribal chairman Bryan Polite.

"It means we are going forward in recreational sales both for business and a market for tribal members to engage in sales in an entrepreneurial fashion," he said. The tribe has already passed an ordinance authorizing medicinal marijuana economic development.

The first vote, 114 in favor and 30 opposed, provides authorization for the legal framework for the tribally chartered company, Little Beach Harvest, to move forward with tribally sanctioned recreational marijuana operations. The second vote, 94 to 50, would authorize individual tribal members to move forward with businesses in the field as well, Polite said.

He predicted that if development of the final ordinance language proceeds on course this fall, the tribe could be in the market with recreational cannabis products nine to 10 months ahead of other statewide marijuana businesses. Passage of the framework "gives us a huge advantage of putting our brand out there, developing an industry," Polite said. "We will be one of the big boys."

The tribe already has relationships with outside companies to help manage and finance the businesses, and it plans to build a cultivation facility on its Southampton reservation.

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