Courtesy of The Cayuga Nation

The Cayuga Nation will be developing a cannabis cultivation facility at its property Gakwiyo Garden in Seneca Falls.

March 15, 2022

Cannabis: The Cayuga Nation’s Newest Enterprise

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As of Sept. 22, the use of recreational marijuana became legal in the state of New York. This change allowed for the immediate possession of up to 3 ounces of cannabis or 24 grams of concentrated cannabis for individuals 21 years of age and older. However, until taxation, regulation and licensing are sorted out by New York State officials — the sale of marijuana in the state has not yet been permitted by distributors. 

For the Cayuga Nation, however, the sale of marijuana is coming even sooner. 

“Dispensaries (marijuana shops) are legal if they are on federally recognized, sovereign tribal land,” said New York Office of Cannabis Management spokesperson Freeman Klopott in a statement

As a result, the Cayuga Nation is not bound by state or local regulations on the growth or sale of marijuana, so opening a cannabis facility is exactly what the Nation plans to do.

Gakwiyo Garden, the Cayuga Nation’s agricultural sector, is a 100-acre site in Seneca Falls, New York, with a 3000 square foot greenhouse that currently cultivates and sells over 35 different crops. Now, with the development of the Cayuga Nation’s new facility, one more crop is about to be added to that list: marijuana. 

In addition to creating economic growth, the Cayuga Nation referenced the opening of employment opportunities for the community as one of the positive outcomes of the enterprise. 

“Developing our cannabis business is the next step in expanding and diversifying the Cayuga Nation’s economic opportunities and providing long-lasting benefits to the community,” the Cayuga Nation of New York said in a statement to The Sun.

The new cultivation facility is currently being developed but will have 15,000 square feet of indoor space on the Gakwiyo Garden property, according to Maria Stagliano, official spokesperson for the Cayuga Nation.

The Nation has selected Bergmann, a Rochester-based architectural design firm, to oversee renovation of the cultivation facility, and Jake Brewer, former head grower for a Colorado-based cannabis company, to oversee the development of cannabis operations for the Cayuga Nation, according to Stagliano.

Construction on the project is said to be starting early this year and is expected to be completed before 2023. 

As for past endeavors with cannabis products, in 2020, the Cayuga Nation was granted permission by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to grow and sell hemp — cannabis with less than 0.3 percent concentration of THC — on its reservation. Under the 2018 Farm Bill, Cayuga Nation has exclusive jurisdiction over the hemp on tribal lands, without state or local supervision. Gakwiyo Garden is home to Arrowhead Hemp, where the Cayuga Nation currently grows and sells hemp for a variety of CBD products. 

“Our vision for the future of the Cayuga Nation remains focused on bettering the lives of our members, our community, and our neighbors,” Cayuga Nation said in their statement. “As we venture forward in our economic development, we remain committed to working closely with local governments to ensure the health and safety of our community.”

Correction, March 16, 3:08 p.m.: The initial version of this article misstated the title of Maria Stagliano as a senior account executive for the Cayuga Nation. She is a senior account executive at LEVICK and an official spokesperson for the Cayuga Nation. This information has been corrected.