- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 4, 2015

SALAMANCA, N.Y. (AP) - The Seneca Indian Nation’s next business venture could be medical marijuana.

Members of the western New York tribe approved a referendum Tuesday giving leaders the go-ahead to draft laws and regulations governing the manufacturing, use and distribution of the drug.

“A decision on our nation’s path of action on medical cannabis is far from made,” Seneca President Maurice John Sr. said following the 448-364 vote, “but now, having heard from the Seneca people, our discussions and due diligence can begin in earnest.”

Tribal interest in marijuana has grown since a U.S. Justice Department announcement late last year that it would allow tribes to legalize and regulate marijuana on their reservations. It’s seen as a potential economic boon, particularly in states that have legalized marijuana.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation in July 2014 that authorized medical marijuana in New York.

“The first step from here is establishing thoughtful regulation for how the Seneca Nation could potentially move forward,” John said.

He said leaders would now review and analyze the potential economic, social, health and regulatory factors.

The Senecas run three casinos in western New York, in Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Salamanca.

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