There are mixed opinions among First Nations people in Canada about Canada’s Bill C45 dealing with legal marijuana. Chief of Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte is unsure that the new legislation as it stands even applies on reserve in Canada.
“They want in on the economic benefit to create jobs and earn revenue,” said Donald Maracle, Chief of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte in southeastern Ontario.”
“Mr. Maracle said “there is a huge question about whether Ontario’s laws can even apply on reserve.”
There is talk around suggesting changes to Bill C45 that would “allow” the ability to collect cannabis tax to extend to First Nations people. Personally I see this as a way for the government to try to remove the right to self government and self regulations from First Nations people and make us into tax collectors. I personally have many concerns around this just being a way to keep the profit in the hands of the select chosen few who meet the government defined standards to be in the industry.
“On February 28, 2018 the Chief Commissioner made a presentation to the Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples who were reviewing Bill C-45 to suggest specific amendments to enable First Nation cannabis tax and regulatory jurisdiction.”
“Enable a First Nation cannabis tax and regulatory framework that is harmonized with the proposed federal and provincial frameworks for interested First Nations…”
The official story basically is saying that First Nations missed out on cannabis laws because the government didn’t include them in the regulatory process of medical and recreational marijuana legalization. I see this as an opportunity for First Nations people to exercise the rights that already exist to self government and self determination. The province has no authority over First Nations Laws and therefore we should be good to go as long as our individual band laws don’t oppose it. Each band can decide on their own marijuana legislation and regulations. End of discussion. In my opinion any reserve accepting outside regulation of anything is selling out their own rights and their people’s rights.
“In December, the federal and provincial governments announced a deal to split the excise tax from cannabis sales 75 per cent to 25 per cent in favour of the provinces. Conspicuous in its absence was mention of First Nation cannabis tax jurisdiction.”
“the lack of First Nation inclusion in the cannabis tax framework is a missed opportunity for the federal government to demonstrate its commitment to a nation-to-nation relationship that reconciles First Nation governments into the federation.”
Many First Nations reserves have already been realizing the medicinal and economic benefits of having a cannabis industry. In Alderville First Nation my home reserve it is estimated that $100,000 per day in marijuana revenue is being realized. Most of the other businesses in Alderville have seen as much as double the sales from the added traffic of cannabis customers.
“Some B.C. First Nations are optimistic that the legal cannabis industry could bring big opportunities for reconciliation and economic development to their communities.”
“In his submission on behalf of the Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs, Chief Wil Marsden describes the effects of cannabis on his community as positive.”
“Several members dealing with conditions like cancer, diabetes, and fibromyalgia have found relief, while others have used it to help remove their dependence on alcohol and other drugs.”
“Mass education of the endocannabinoid system would mean a whole lot more understanding, and probably a lot less reefer madness,” Marsden said.”
148-page pot bill silent on role Indigenous communities will play under proposed legal framework
First Nations leaders want control over the cannabis excise tax levied on legal pot manufactured and sold on reserves.
Manny Jules, chief commissioner of the First Nations Tax Commission, is urging senators to amend Bill C-45, the government’s pot bill, to hand taxing authority to First Nations governments so they can impose their own levy on cannabis manufactured and sold on reserves.
“If the legislation proceeds as-is … there are going to be immediate problems within our communities just over simple things, like the regulatory regimes on how cannabis retailers would operate on a reserve.”
Beyond the tax issue, the 148-page Bill C-45 is silent on the role Indigenous communities will play under the new legal framework. In fact, the word “Aboriginal” is mentioned only once in the “definitions” section of the bill.
Randall Phillips, chief of Oneida Nation of the Thames, near London, Ont., said many First Nations want to take the road that gives them a “slice of the pie.”
Assembly of First Nations wants provinces, territories to butt out of First Nations pot sales
Whiteduck said there are people who have been growing marijuana in his community for more than 20 years and, while his band has taken the position to prevent dispensaries, it can only hold back the business for so long.
Blair said First Nations dispensaries operating now are illegal and any shops operating after the new law comes into force will have to abide by the “strict regulation for production and distribution that is being developed.”
“You will have the RCMP doing search warrants because First Nations are not prepared,” said Alexis, who is with Tribal Chiefs Venture, which is made up of six First Nations.
Under the new marijuana law, it’s up to the provinces and territories to determine regulation, distribution and retail and, as it stands now, First Nations will have to sort out how they fit in with the respective jurisdictions.
Ontario recently announced a plan to regulate and distribute marijuana through provincially controlled outlets. The plan was silent on how First Nations will fit into the scheme.
Assembly of First Nations Ontario regional Chief Isadore Day said the provinces should have no role in how First Nations decide to deal with marijuana on their territory.
Something of this nature does need to be regulated; whether it will be self-regulated by First Nations, whether it will be regulated by the federal government.
The marijuana market is already blooming on the ground in several First Nations in Ontario. Tyendinaga, Six Nations and Alderville First Nation already have operating dispensaries and Akwesasne is expected to soon join the group.
Jamie Kunkel, who owns the Smoke Signals dispensary in Tyendinaga, said Ottawa and the provinces have no business trying to regulate marijuana on Indigenous territory.
…“We just want to be left alone. Keep your hands out of our pockets. Don’t tell us how to live our lives. Let us operate the way we operate.”
Kanenhariyo, owner of Mohawk Medicine in Six Nations, a traditional medicine and herbal store which sells marijuana alongside bear root, sage and sweet grass, said he’s concerned that band governments will try to muscle local entrepreneurs out of the business by signing deals with provinces.
Will provincial law apply, or can Indigenous people take full responsibility for its management?
In the Bill’s current state, there is no mention of Indigenous people or how the legalisation will affect their communities.
A further issue that remains to be resolved is the impact of provincial legislation on attempts by First Nations to establish their own cannabis regulations.
Even if provincial cannabis laws do not ultimately apply on First Nations land, their impact will still be felt by communities hoping to derive income from its production and sale.
If the federal government’s comments are to be believed, then these statutes should already recognise the power of First Nations to regulate their own production and distribution of cannabis
Feds must allow First Nations to tax, regulate cannabis
The chiefs sought to prevent provincial regulations from applying on reserves and to allow First Nations to share in the revenue that will be generated by legalizing the production and distribution of cannabis.
What was much more surprising was the decision of the Trudeau government to exclude Indigenous governments from the cannabis regime in the first place.
“The Government of Canada recognizes that all relations with Indigenous peoples need to be based on the recognition and implementation of their right to self-determination, including the inherent right of self-government.”
Recognizing First Nations jurisdiction to tax and regulate cannabis would allow First Nations to ensure an orderly transition to the legalization of a product that, as many have stated, could affect already vulnerable people and communities.