Foxwoods Resort Casino could soon have a new amenity, allowing locals and guests to legally purchase and consume marijuana.
Connecticut legalized medical marijuana in 2012. The state expanded cannabis use to recreational forms earlier this year when Gov. Ned Lamont (D) in June signed Senate Bill 1201.
Adults in Connecticut are now allowed to possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis while in public, and up to five ounces if securely contained at their home. Beginning July 1, 2023, Connecticut residents will also be permitted to grow as many as six cannabis plants indoors.
For now, residents must purchase their weed from a licensed dispensary. Such retail establishments aren’t expected to open until next year, but one such location is expected near Foxwoods. Connecticut is home to two large tribal casino resorts, Mohegan Sun being the other property.
According to Leafly, an online resource for cannabis, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation is planning to open a marijuana dispensary less than a half-mile from its Foxwoods casino.
“The dispensary, which could open as early as the spring, will be located less than a half-mile from the casino resort — adding to the Mashantucket Pequots’ portfolio of nearby tourist attractions that include a golf course, movie theater, retail shopping mall, trio of spas, and dozens of restaurants,” revealed Leafly’s Chris Kudialis, a Las Vegas-based cannabis journalist.
Tribal Casinos Less Restricted
Commercial casinos in the United States must stay far away from marijuana. Cannabis remains a Schedule 1 narcotic on the federal level — the same classification as heroin and LSD. Licensed commercial casinos are required to adhere to most federal laws, including those relating to illegal drugs.
Tribal casinos that operate on sovereign land are afforded fewer regulations. Being independent governments, recognized Native American tribes do not need to adhere to state orders, nor certain federal laws.
The US government has an underlying contract with the tribal nations that the tribes possess inalienable powers of sovereignty,” the Southeastern Oklahoma State University explains.
The US Justice Department announced in late 2013 that it would not interfere with a state’s wishes to legalize marijuana, either medicinally or recreationally. That, along with Connecticut allowing adult-use weed, and Foxwoods is reportedly readying to bring a dispensary to its 1,250-acre reservation in Southeastern Connecticut.
A marijuana dispensary near Foxwoods Resort Casino will give the tribal destination yet another advantage over its competition in nearby Massachusetts. Though Massachusetts also has medical and recreational marijuana, being commercial enterprises, Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield, and Plainridge Park must continue to steer clear of weed.
Recreational marijuana use in Massachusetts is also limited to private residences. Consuming in public places, including hotel rooms, is prohibited. That isn’t the case in Connecticut, where its general rule regarding cannabis consumption is that it can be smoked or vaped anywhere cigarettes are permitted.
Connecticut’s two tribal casinos — Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun — have seen their slot machine gross gaming revenue gradually decline over the past 15 years because of commercial casinos continuing to expand across New England. But with the recent legalization of marijuana, plus iGaming and sports betting, the tribes hope to reverse that trend.
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