Indigenous people of Canada have started a debate regarding whether cannabis is something First Nations should ignore as a sign of a vice threatening an already outnumbered native population, or perhaps treat it as a money crop that could greatly increase their odds in future.
“What the communities are obviously going to be looking at is how far we go with this. Do we accept it fully? Do we accept it in part? Or do we just say ‘Absolutely not’?” said Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Isadore Day, who represented tribes of Ontario on this meeting.
Kahnawake Council Chief Gina Deer said that there are still unsolved significant health and public safety concerns. “We’re a vulnerable population and due to that there’s concern about legalization and the abuse of (marijuana), because we’ve also seen the abuse of alcohol,” she said.
Given that several tribes have already declared a status quo until further notice, such as the The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake, everyone is still looking for directions.
Indigenous representatives from Quebec and Ontario will meeting with their provincial government officials this week to discuss since many Indigenous communities don’t know themselves what direction to take.
First Nations Discuss Cannabis Investments
Assembly of First Nations Chief Day said that AFN wants to make sure that provincial taxes collected on marijuana sales, as well as federal excise taxes paid by marijuana producers come back to Indigenous communities.
Certain parts of the indigenous tribes have already made investments in Canada’s growing cannabis industry, hoping to get big returns once legalization hits in July 2018. Others have decided to slow down the process, at least until the legal issues have been resolved on both federal and provincial levels.
Indigenous advisers for a cannabis company called Delshen Therapeutics have said that “there have been a range of reactions to the idea of partnering with a medicinal marijuana company”, since The Wahgoshig First Nation made a $3-million investment in Delshen Therapeutics in November 2015.
Since then, 48 other First Nations communities have also invested in Delshen Therapeutics.
B.C. Starts Public Consultation on Cannabis Legalization
British Columbia started public consultations regarding the ways in which regulation will take place in the province. B.C. has not made any public announcements regarding the model which will be implemented to regulate sales and distribution of recreational pot.
Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth told municipal leaders across British Columbia that “the government is beginning an extensive public engagement on how legalized marijuana will be sold and regulated in the province”.
Farnworth also said that it is essential that B.C. gets it right in terms of zoning and licensing. Another important thing to note is that the legal age to buy recreational pot set by Ottawa is 18, however provinces will most likely rise that limit to 19 like the government of Ontario did.
Other questions such as if British Columbia will have a legitimate supply coming on stream to meet the demand have also been brought up, as well as what the revenue structure will look like.
Despite all these questions, Vancouver City Counselor Kerry Jang seemed to be extremely please by the ongoing public consultation.
“My initial response was pinch me. Is this really happening?” he said. “To find out we’re having a full public consultation … is very important, and the right way to go.”