Tsiothóhrha/December 3, 2016: 9:00 A.M. TO 5:00 P.M. in the lobby of the Community Building

Question #1:  Should the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe explore options to legalize, license and regulate the cultivation, production and distribution of Medical Marijuana?   

Question #2:  Should the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe explore options to legalize, license and regulate the cultivation, production and distribution of Industrial Hemp?

Question #3:  Do you support a $200 monthly benefit be paid to tribally enrolled American resident Elders 62 years old and older within the 15 mile radius, which is the established guidelines of the SRMT, for achieving and/or maintaining financial stability for their health, education and welfare?

Marijuana/Industrial Hemp Commonly Asked Questions:

Why is the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe holding a referendum on medical marijuana and industrial hemp?

The purpose of the tribal referendum is to determine if the membership approves of the Tribe exploring options to legalize, license and regulate the cultivation, production and distribution of medical marijuana and/or Industrial hemp. The Tribe is seeking direction from the community membership on whether it should devote any time, effort or resources into exploring these initiatives.

How did the idea of pursuing medical marijuana come from?

It was presented by community members at a tribal meeting after New York legalized medical marijuana.

Is the production of medical marijuana legal in New York State?

In July 2014, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature enacted the Compassionate Care Act to provide a comprehensive, safe and effective medical marijuana program that meets the needs of New Yorkers. It made medical marijuana legal under state law within the constraints of state law, however it is not legal under federal law.

Is the cultivation, production and distribution of medical marijuana costly?

Yes. Each medical marijuana seed is engineered for a specific patient and will require the assistance of botanists, chemists and doctors to properly develop. In addition, significant security measures will be required to ensure the products are not diverted into illegal uses.

Is the Tribe looking to form a partnership with New York State for medical marijuana?

It is premature to speculate what form of economic partnership may be required, or not, without first knowing if this initiative is supported by community members.

If approved by membership, what is the next step?

If approved by the membership, the Tribe will then devote time and resources to research and identify how the medical marijuana and/or industrial hemp industries can be developed to provide the greatest benefit to the community of Akwesasne. This is no guarantee that the initiative may be feasible.

Onkwariwashon'a: National Indian Cannabis Coaltion (NICC) Presentation (August 6, 2016) (facebook)

PUBLIC MEETING #2 Medical Marijuana & Industrial Hemp Kenténha/October 6, 2016 (facebook)

PUBLIC MEETING #3 Medical Marijuana & Industrial Hemp Kenténha/October 19, 2016 (facebook)

Cannabis In Indian Country Presentation by Lael Echo-hawk (pdf)

National Indian Cannabis Coalition by Jeff Doctor (pdf)

Elders Benefit FAQs:

How many Mohawk elders would be eligible to receive the proposed benefit?

The Tribal Clerk’s Office reports there will be 1,082 eligible elders in 2017; which will increase to 1,187 in 2018 and 1,296 in 2019. Based upon these numbers, providing a monthly benefit of $200 to 1,082 individuals would cost $2.6 million the first year and increase at least 9% ($234,000) each year. The number of eligible elders was based on dates of birth listed in the enrollment database.

How would an Elders Benefit be funded?

Any potential funding for an Elders Benefit could only come from Tribal General Funds (TGF). State and federal funding received by the SRMT are restricted to specific purposes and allowable expenses. State and federal funds come with specific terms and conditions that have been agreed to prior to SRMT receipt of the funds. The majority of Tribal General Funds comes from the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino Resort, with some fees collected on Tobacco, Alcohol and Petroleum sales and miscellaneous revenues are produced from the Tribal Court (fines & fees) and the Tribal Clerk’s office (ID cards, deeds, etc).

What TGF-funded programs and services could be impacted by the proposed benefit?

Tribal General Funds continue to support more than 200 essential tribal programs and services, with some that are entirely funded by TGF. Many tribal programs are supplemented by TGF that include Health Services, Seniors Center, Diabetes Center, Education and Law Enforcement. There are also annual community contributions funded by TGF that include Winter Fuel Allotment, Akwesasne Boys & Girls Club, Akwesasne Freedom School, Hogansburg-Akwesasne Volunteer Fire Department, Ambulance Services, Snowsuit Fund and Akwesasne Holiday Helpers.

Could the Elders Benefit payment be Taxed?

It is possible that the benefit payment could be subject to federal income taxation. It could be considered a “ Per Capita Payment” of tribal gaming revenue, as it will be mainly funded from gaming revenue. Gaming funds for the “General Welfare” of tribal members are exempt by the Internal Revenue Service’s General Welfare Doctrine, but that is only if the benefit is “need based” (i.e. based on income of tribal members). As currently structured, the Elders Benefit does not appear to have any income restrictions.

Can the Elders Benefit impact other non-tribal benefits and services that elders currently receive?

Federal and state agencies may reduce the amount provided to tribal elders due to receiving an additional income or benefit; such as Social Security, Food Snaps, LIHEAP and low-income housing/rentals.

Would there be other impacts to the Tribe?

Yes. The Elders Benefit would inhibit the Tribe’s ability to meet the increasing needs of our growing community.  

Below is a listing of TGF-funded services and programs that currently benefit elders:

1. Seniors Center Activities

2. Home Delivered & Congregate Meals

3. Elder In-Home Care

4. Elder Handyman Services

5. Snow Plowing and Lawn Maintenance for Homebound Elders

6. Elder Shopping Transportation

7. Nutrition Counseling

8. Tax Preparation Assistance

9. Chronic Care / Outreach

10. Home Health Aide

11. Wound Care

12. Medical Appointment Transportation

13. Home Improvement Program

14. Handicapped Accessibility; Ramps & Railings

15. Winter Fuel Allotment

16. Elders Electricity Assistance Pilot Project

17. Seniors Furnace Cleaning and Servicing

18. Food Distribution Program

19. Disability Services

20. Family Advocate

21. Emergency Intervention

22. Adult Protective Services

23. Hazardous Tree Removal

24. Law Enforcement – Well Checks

25. Tribal EMS

26. Health Services

27. Diabetes Center

28. Generations Park & Walking Trail

29. Akwesasne Library/Cultural Center

Akwesasne TV recording of the second public meeting for the Elders Benefit Referendum (facebook)