It doesn’t take long after entering the St. Regis Mohawk reservation to see a glimpse of the future of marijuana sales in the state of New York.
The reservation — a sovereign tribal land in the eyes of the government — currently holds the distinction of hosting New York’s only overt outlets for recreational sales of the drug: nearly a dozen dispensaries offering an array of joints, gummies, edibles and tinctures, which imbue this far-flung, northern-border territory with a shaggy, entrepreneurial energy.
In front of one dispensary, Best Budz, a smiling, neon-green wavy-tube monster welcomes customers to a salesroom housed in a shipping container; another, Six Bears, offers 24-hour-a-day sales, complete with a drive-through window and a work-in-progress “V.I.P. lounge.”
All of which is legal, according to the state, if exceedingly remote: The nearest big city is Montreal, about 70 miles to the northeast, and even visitors from upstate cities like Syracuse face a drive of three hours or more.
But while New York City customers might prefer closer locales in Massachusetts (where recreational marijuana sales began in 2018), the proprietors of the reservation’s new weed dispensaries say they are doing a steady business, capitalizing on delays from state leaders who have been slow to adopt regulations to govern the adult-use sale of the drug. Possession and use of marijuana in limited amounts for recreational use became legal in New York in late March.
As such, the reservation’s dispensariesare seemingly getting a jump-start on what is projected to be a $4 billion industry in New York, as well as continuing a long tradition of using products like tobacco and gasoline — steady moneymakers for the tribe — to create jobs and income.
“This land has a lot to do with being a place to do commerce on,” said William Roger Jock, a member of the St.