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Shango Los

On Saturday, the Shinnecock Indian Nation’s general council voted 71% to 29% on a measure to grow and process medical marijuana in New York State. The tribe plans to build a cultivation facility and dispensary on reservation land, pending approval from the state.

The tribe’s interest began in 2014, when a federal memorandum called the Cole Memorandum was released, detailing how tribes could establish medical marijuana programs in states where it had been legalized.

Tribal Trustee Chairman Brian Polite said that a cannabis regulatory division will oversee the project. The tribe has also chartered a company to construct the multi-million-dollar cultivation and dispensary facilities, funded by what Polite calls a “private investor.”

New York’s medical marijuana law has attracted intense criticism from medical marijuana advocates, as it only allows five registered organizations to manufacture and distribute cannabis, and only twenty dispensaries to operate across the state. Pending state approval, though, the rule doesn’t apply to the Shinnecocks, who are their own sovereign nation.

The project is expected to create 80-100 jobs and a generous amount of revenue for the tribe, which tribal officials plan to use for substance abuse prevention programs.

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