April 24th, 2018
On April 16th, 2018, the Chief and Council of Curve Lake First Nation passed a motion that enacted a moratorium on dispensaries or other business models for direct sales to consumers of cannabis until a further date when we have information and guidelines sufficient or until it becomes legal at which time it will be re-evaluated by Council.
Cannabis (marijuana) remains a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Drug and Substances Act, and, unless otherwise regulated for production and distribution for medical purposes, is subject to offences under that Act.
Possessing and selling cannabis for non-medical purposes is still illegal everywhere in Canada. Current laws remain in force until new legislation and rules are in place. The Anishinabek Police Service will continue to enforce current laws in regards to cannabis in the community.
Learn more about the current status of cannabis laws in Canada – https://www.canada.ca/en/services/policing/justice/legalization-regulation-marijuana.html
- Distribute educational information on cannabis to community
- Gather input from the community on the sale of cannabis in CLFN
Chief Phyllis Williams, Deputy Councillor Laurie Hockaday and Councillor Shane Taylor attended the Anishinabek Nation Information Session on cannabis legalization in Sudbury on March 6 and 7, 2018, which included presentations made by federal and provincial officials.
It is clear that there is much work to be done by Ontario and Canada to develop a workable legal and enforcement framework for cannabis sales and production. The governments also need to ensure accurate interpretations and applications of the new law when it comes into effect and to fully address:
- public health and safety concerns, including the effects on the mental development of youth, and concerns about use and abuse of cannabis,
- the broad illicit market (growers/dealers) that support criminal organizations,
- the burden on the justice system and associated social impacts
It is also clear that governments have not given serious consideration to the numerous potential impacts that the legalization of cannabis will have within First Nation communities. Many nations are already experiencing the rise of cannabis dispensaries that purport to exercise an indigenous right to sell cannabis. Some attempt to justify this by claiming that cannabis is a traditional medicine.
Our key concerns with the process are public health and safety, the lack of proper engagement undertaken to date, and the lack of clarity on how cannabis will be regulated and enforced in First Nations communities, especially when legal enforcement in many communities is already underfunded.
We are also concerned that the retail model for Ontario does not appear to provide opportunities for First Nations to participate, and that Ontario has expressed willingness to share revenues with municipalities but it is not clear if this will include First Nation communities.
There are many other considerations, including illegitimate business opportunities, taxation, the lack of First Nation specific licenses within medical production regulations, and the fact that there are already dispensaries operating on other reserves and communities, yet there is no enforcement and it is still unclear how provincial legislation will impact these activities.
For more information, please contact:
Abigail McCue, Acting General Manager
705-657-8045 or @curvelake.ca