Recreational marijuana dispensary opens in Akwesasne

Good Leaf, a recreational marijuana dispensary opened its doors on Route 37 at the beginning of May. The store provides cannabis to anyone who is 21 years or older. (Provided photo — Vin Gallo/Malone Telegram)

AKWESASNE — In the wake of the state passing legislation in April to legalize recreational marijuana, a cannabis business has sprouted on Route 37 to bring public access to the plant — without the need for a prescription.

Good Leaf Dispensary opened its doors in the southern portion of Akwesasne about six weeks ago and looks to bring the various attributes of cannabis to anyone 21 years or older, property manager Roger Jock said.

“We have our product tested so that we have pure, qualified, certified products here,” Jock said. “We make sure that we have a standard. That’s from the regulations that we put forward from our (original) government (of Akwesasne). That there’s no fentanyl and no stuff in our plants when we sell them.”

Jock added, with many people seeking help pertaining to pain relief, anxiety relief and demanding sedative-like remedy, the store is looking to provide such a service.

“Here, you don’t have to have a medical (prescription). Where, if it was a medical dispensary, you’d have to have a ‘script (prescription),” Jock said. “You’d have to have a medical doctor saying that you needed this. Here, you don’t, but you can use it.”

According to Jock, Akwesasne’s original government has been developing regulations pertaining to medical marijuana since 2010.

“We’ve had funders who wanted to come in and (implement) medical marijuana,” Jock said.

The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe in December entered into a joint development agreement with cannabis growing pharmaceutical arm MMJ BioPharma Cultivation Inc.

This was to lease and develop about 20 acres of Tribal land, with an objective to grow marijuana under a special Drug Enforcement Administration growing permit.

The plant would only be sold to medical facilities, labs, government agencies, academic and educational entities.

Good Leaf Dispensary is recreational, although that wasn’t the initial plan for the store. The intention of store ownership was not to wait around for state marijuana regulations pertaining to recreational cannabis.

“We planned on growing a full line of medical marijuana,” Jock said. “We sent our people to courses — online courses to get their medical certificates for prescribing medical marijuana.

“We were geared up to open a medical marijuana dispensary and we had a doctor’s office (at the back of the building). It was all set.”

Then, at the start of April, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation to legalize adult-use cannabis. The bill established the Office of Cannabis Management, in order to implement a structure that covers medical, adult-use and cannabinoid hemp, while expanding the state’s medical marijuana programs.

The legislation also provides licensing for marijuana producers, distributors, and retailers.

“And we were like, ‘well, let’s go full force,'” Jock said.


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