Follow us
Business Industry Medical Cannabis News Policy

New York Politicians Want to Sell Weed to Native Tribes

New York lawmakers support bill to sell weed to native tribes
Written by Sarah Friedman

Lawmakers in New York are pushing a bill to let legal producers sell their product to native tribes. Why?

New York lawmakers are pushing a bill to allow bulk weed sales to native Indian tribes. Why are they doing this?

New York lawmakers pressure governor for weed sales to native tribes

The current story, as reported by Marijuana Moment involves a new law in New York, under two registrations: S.7295 and A.7375. This represents two companion bills, out of the Senate, and out of the Assembly. The bill is entitled the Cannabis Crop Rescue Act. So far, 66 members of the legislature, about a third of the total, are leaning on Governor Hochul to sign the bill; as per an open letter sent to the governor in the last week.

The bill would allow legal producers to sell their product to Native American tribal retailers. This is desired because of a huge surplus of marijuana crops, for which farmers cannot get rid of their product. According to the letter, “Right now, there are over 200 cannabis farmers trying to sell their crops but only 23 dispensaries open statewide.”

The letter continues that “This has resulted in more than 250,000 pounds of unsold cannabis. Farmers who took out loans and leveraged all their assets to cultivate these crops are demoralized and facing financial disaster unless we act quickly to provide them with an alternate market.”

New York politicians want to sell bulk weed to Native tribes
New York politicians want to sell bulk weed to Native tribes

The letter doesn’t mention the strict, expensive, often unnecessary regulatory laws that these growers are subjected to. Or that without such expenses, the issue might not be so dire. The letter also fails to mention that these same laws are why not enough dispensaries exist. New York’s answer? Not to lower regulatory expenses, or ease conditions so more dispensaries can open; but to sell the product off to a third party, that it likely knows it can’t compete with. One that doesn’t have the same regulatory cost burdens.

A reality that should be noted here, is that New York only legalized cannabis in 2021, and only opened a regulated market in December of 2022. It’s not even a year in, and planning was so insanely bad (even with other states already as examples); that with under a year of sales, New York is already having these issues. It’s a massive indication of the lack of logic or good planning that permeates this industry; to nearly unbelievable levels.

Native American tribes and weed

How do Indian tribes factor into the desire of New York politicians to sell off weed? It’s not that lawmakers want to sell it to the people of the tribes; the plan is to sell it to tribal dispensaries. The dispensaries can then resell the plant in their own space, under their own laws. They can sell products to both tribe members, and anyone else who wants to buy.

The reason this is possible is because Native American tribes have been granted exception to US laws. This has not always been respected, and still is not in many categories. However, when it comes to weed; the Cole and Wilkinson memos from the last decade, have worked to reinforce that neither the US federal government, nor state governments, have the right to tell people on tribal land, what to do concerning weed production. This benefit is given to Native American tribes as a paltry answer to the mass genocide that occurred over a 100 year period, across the Americas.

Native American sovereignty is the idea that Native American tribes are not technically a part of America. They are their own functional communities, and therefore can set their own policies regarding everything from infrastructure like street cleaning, trash collection, and water maintenance; to any and all law enforcement issues, like legalizing cannabis. These rights were technically allotted in the constitution, but have been steamrolled over by America for most of their existence.

Gambling was the first time we saw this sovereignty used in a big way. Native American casinos were fought hard against, and even now, must share profits with state governments. An indication of the lack of follow-thru by the US government to give full sovereignty. Nonetheless, casinos prevailed, and are still a big industry. However, the current climate of online gambling has made it hard for any brick and mortar gambling location; and this has led to Native Americans switching focus to weed.

Tribal casinos are a huge Native American industry
Tribal casinos are a huge Native American industry

As the weed industry grows bigger, more tribes have legalized marijuana on their own, and then set up shop cultivating it on tribal land, and selling it in tribal dispensaries. The dispensaries are doing well, as they offer lower pricing to standard state dispensaries. Stories out of Minnesota indicate that in some places, state law enforcement and tribal law enforcement are working together; although how far this goes, I cannot say.

Logic time! How does this make sense?

It doesn’t. New York just opened its market. That it needs to sell weed to Indian tribes to attempt to break even, is a massive showing of poor planning. The idea of what its trying to do, indicates politicians understand its not about the sheer ability to sell the product. If it was, there wouldn’t be an expectation that Native American tribes would have better luck, and there wouldn’t be a reason to do this. Instead of ensuring enough dispensaries exist in New York, and that they’re priced competitively; New York is opting not to address laws for this, and wants to sell to tribes instead.

Native American tribes run by their own laws when it comes to weed legalization, production, and sale. As such, they don’t have to charge the same insanely useless and hurtful regulatory costs that damage producers, and keep dispensary numbers low. Nor must they institute the same taxes; namely sin excise taxes. These taxes are consistently used by every state; and greatly contribute to high-pricing, difficulty for producers, and the inability to compete well with the black market.

Sin taxes are responsible (along with fees and taxes) for continuously driving up the price of weed; to the point of tanking out companies, and leading to ridiculous legislation like this. Best part about it; weed is hardly a dangerous product and doesn’t cause societal harm; making their inclusion for weed products, illogical at best. Sin taxes on a product many use as medicine, is a great example of the bottomless greed of state governments.

New York already has to compete with the lower costs of the tribal dispensaries; and it knows it doesn’t have the excuse of black markets. This time around, there’s no pointing fingers or demonizing those with lower prices. Or trying to make it sound like those with lower prices, and who operate outside of a US system, are bad in some way. The ability for that argument is gone. If nothing else, I get a bit of a ‘if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em’ vibe from it.

Any state can be competitive with the black market (or tribal dispensaries) by simply regulating correctly. That they repeatedly choose not to, shows an inability to understand how to make a working, and long-lasting, system. Even without formal federal regulation that says anything has to be done in a specific way; states don’t institute workable systems. New York is a stellar example since it opened less than a year ago, and is already at the point of needing to sell out to the lower priced competitor. I expect New York politicians see enough of the future to know current state regulation will only bolster tribal sales, anyway.

Cannabis industry
Cannabis industry

So, no, it makes no sense. What it really indicates is that New York must lower regulatory costs and tax amounts that are raising prices, and which are limiting the amount of legal dispensaries. Plus, New York producers shouldn’t expect to make as much money selling their weed to native tribes. Tribes have no reason to buy overpriced weed since they can produce, themselves, at a lower cost. It’s therefore hard to imagine they’d be willing to pay a price that’ll account for the massive fees paid by cultivators in the state.


This goes down as one of the more facepalm-worthy things I’ve seen in the current legal weed markets; and that says a lot. So, here’s to New York; for being outright ridiculous enough to open an industry with such out-of-whack policies, that saving it means going to Native American populations for help. Within the first year of operation.

Of course, on the other end, Native American tribes can now benefit from the absolute stupidity and greed of the white man. Which I find, as a white female from America, a very difficult concept to be upset about.

Thanks for coming by! Welcome to; your first choice for independent news covering the growing cannabis and hallucinogen spaces (and beyond). Come ’round regularly to keep up with the Joneses; and get subscribed to the Cannadelics Weekly Newsletter; for the best product promos, alongside the news.

Have anything to add? Your voice matters! Join the conversation and contribute your insights and ideas below.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

About the author

Sarah Friedman

I look stuff up and and write stuff down, in order to make sense of the world around. And I travel a lot too.