SRMT 'New Business' at July's Monthly Meeting
On Saturday, July 10th, community members met in-person or virtually for the SRMT monthly meeting. To meet safe COVID guidelines, the meeting was held at the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino.
Updates were given by SRMT Emergency Operations Center and Health Services by Derrick Comins, the SMRT Housing Development by Starr Thomas, the American Rescue Plan Act Funds by Gloria Herne and the SRMT Adult Use Cannabis Ordinance update was given by Dale White and Elliott Lazore.
But before agenda scheduled agenda updates were given, the ‘floor’ was open for community members to make comments, ask questions and under the agenda item “New Business”.
To begin, a highly respected elder spoke of her dismay and concern over the number of unlicensed cannabis dispensaries in Akwesasne.
She asked the SRMT council several questions;
Are the eighteen current operating dispensaries included in the twenty-four who have applied for licenses,
How many dispensaries have complied with the Cease and Desist Orders given by the SRMT?
Will the governing board/committee going to speak for all factions in Akwesasne or will each faction operate on their own terms?
Will they honor the tribe’s Cease and Desist order?
What will the tribe do to those who get into trouble at the U.S./Canadian border?
What will happen to those people who break the law north of the border, will they be allowed to set up shop here, south of the border with no repercussions?
What message will be put in place to protect our young people?
And lastly, what will the consequence be to those who violate the law and serve minors?
Another community member who has spent her career working on the health and safety of Akwesasronon stated she was very discouraged with the number of unregulated and unlicensed cannabis dispensaries in Akwesasne. She stated ‘council was sworn in to protect the health and safety of the community members and I do not feel’ you are doing that now.
Other community members questioned Council on how much will the Tribe make in this endeavor (minimal), burning garbage in certain neighborhoods, a field house (former bingo palace), former IGA building, and a considerable amount of time was spent discussing the Elder’s Benefit.
Further into the meeting, under the agenda item ‘SRMT Adult Use Cannabis Ordinance Update’ community members questioned why it has taken the Tribe so long to implement the ordinance (NYS just recently passed their laws governing cannabis and they are not expected to open shop until 2022 and SRMT is the first to pass an adult use cannabis ordinance in Indian Country), they questioned the required documents (pre-license) needed to apply for a license (this draft ordinance was given to the community beforehand and according to SRMT, every single section was changed to accommodate comments made by the community)), how many cannabis dispensaries can Akwesasne actually sustain without becoming oversaturated (5, possibly10; this is in consultation with industry leading consultants) and where are the dispensaries getting their ‘supplies’ (no one know where the cannabis is being shipped from, nor if and where testing is being done). Other complaints were made about the Ordinance, stating the process was ‘incredibly intrusive’ and the 30% exchange (which would be used only if needed since the entire operation would be under a “”Seed to Sale” operation. .
SRMT Counsel Dale White and SRMT Compliance Elliott Lazore answered each question (above in parentheses).
Community members and the SRMT Council all agree that this should be handled peacefully, and every action taken will be made with our children’s future health and safety in mind, notwithstanding, made with full regard to our past history.
The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe July Hybrid Meeting can be viewed in its entirety on the SRMT website, Tribal Members portal. A recap of the SRMT July Tribal meeting can also be viewed on CKON’s Facebook page.