June 17, 2024
Ottawa in talks to work out cannabis rules for First Nations territories
Organized Crime Reduction Minister Bill Blair, left, listens as Isadore Day, CEO of Bimaadzwin, speaks while Pikwakanagan Chief Kirby Whiteduck, centre back, looks on, during a June 30 meeting in Ottawa.
Organized Crime Reduction Minister Bill Blair, left, listens as Isadore Day, CEO of Bimaadzwin, speaks while Pikwakanagan Chief Kirby Whiteduck, centre back, looks on, during a June 30 meeting in Ottawa.

The federal government’s lead minister on the cannabis file has been in talks with First Nations leaders over how to carve out First Nations jurisdiction over the cannabis industry on their territories.

Ottawa initially cut First Nations out of the cannabis regulatory and revenue-sharing regime when it developed the Cannabis Act which gave provincial and territorial governments control over the distribution and retail end, while Health Canada oversees the licensing of commercial production.

Ottawa also splits excise tax revenues 25 per cent to 75 per cent with provincial and territorial governments. 

“They left us behind when they started going down that channel,” said Opaskwayak Cree Nation Onekanew (Chief) Christian Sinclair, who has been involved in the discussions. 

First Nation invested in cannabis

Sinclair’s First Nation, about 520 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, bet early on the cannabis industry and is a major investor in National Access Cannabis and its retail chain of Meta Cannabis stories.

Organized Crime Reduction Minister Bill Blair has held several meetings with First Nations leaders — including a teleconference Thursday — exploring the possibility of a cannabis plan which could eventually require a legislative component to give it force.

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