Kahnawà: ke, the Health Canada agreement on cannabis rules could spark further investment by the First Nations
An agreement between a Quebec-based First Nations territory and Health Canada provides for new cannabis regulations that could open up new investments and opportunities for Canada’s indigenous communities.
The Mohawk Council of Kahnawà: ke announced Monday that it had signed a letter of intent with Health Canada that will create a licensing system alongside the territory’s cannabis laws that will allow companies to pursue cannabis cultivation and processing licenses.
Although the First Nations have been in the cannabis industry for some time, their involvement ranges from legal operators to gray market traders. The federal law on cannabis establishes the legal framework within which the provinces and territories are responsible for determining how cannabis is distributed and sold in their jurisdictions. However, this law does not provide sufficient guidance on how First Nations can sell, grow, and process the drug, as it comes under federal oversight that replaces provincial legislation.
While some First Nations-owned cannabis companies have thrived in the Canadian market – Redecan Pharm and AtlantiCann Medical Inc. are two notable examples – much of the industry operates in a thriving gray market. Ontario’s Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, for example, is home to more than three dozen cannabis dispensaries that sell unregulated products, with little enforcement action being taken to contain this market.
Tonya Perron, Ietsénhaienhs or elected head of Kahnawà: ke First Nation, told BNN Bloomberg in an interview that the agreement with Health Canada will allow the territory to soon attract new producers and retailers to the region through a unique dual licensing program.
“It was obvious that there was a need to have a relationship with Health Canada in order for them to share information with our Cannabis Control Board,” said Perron. “Since the licensing applications would run almost in parallel, it made no sense to carry out a development in isolation without one of them knowing what the other is [agency] Did. “
A Health Canada spokesman said the letter of intent could serve as a template to create other licensing protocols for First Nations interested in developing their own cannabis industry.
“Health Canada respects that the Mohawk Council of Kahnawà: ke is putting processes in place and taking a collaborative approach to ensure that cannabis activities in the community are tightly controlled and regulated,” the spokesman said in an email. “This letter of intent helps ensure careful consideration of community processes during Health Canada’s cannabis licensing and regulatory activities.”
The Kahnawà: ke First Nation first drafted their cannabis regulations in December 2018 and almost partnered with Canopy Growth Corp. one to build a large manufacturing facility as well as a processing and packaging room on the territory, but plans later failed. The area south of Montreal on the St. Lawrence Seaway also has no cannabis dispensaries, and all cannabis products that would be sold in Kahnawà: ke are sourced from licensed suppliers rather than gray market suppliers.
“My hope is that for First Nations communities that want to develop something in the direction we paved the way for, these laws do not give up their jurisdiction, they don’t talk about the jurisdiction of coexistence and equality,” Perron said.
BC producers set up industry associations to address province-specific issues
A trio of cannabis producers based in British Columbia announced a new industry association to ensure that the provincial legal cannabis sector has a common voice when negotiating or lobbying with provincial policymakers.
Tantalus Labs, Rubicon Organics Inc. and the Pure Sunfarms subsidiary of Village Farms International Inc. officially launched the BC Cannabis Growers (CCBA) on Thursday. The organization aims at how BC cannabis producers should be on par with other agricultural sectors and receive economic support from the province. It will also advocate for more retail opportunities in the province and provide advice on how to tackle the illegal market.
“At its core it was about ensuring that we have a ‘BC First’ mandate in all provinces,” said Mandesh Dosanjh, Chief Executive Officer of Pure Sunfarms, in a telephone interview. “We want to focus on making sure we are part of the farming community and how we let BC buds thrive and how we can continue to put money into the things that make British Columbia and cannabis synonymous.”
The newly formed organization will offer a fresh perspective on the affairs of the cannabis industry and will be separate from the Cannabis Council of Canada, the national industrial trade group that advocates the sector in Ottawa and other provinces. Dan Sutton, CEO of Tantulus Labs, told BNN Bloomberg that CCBA will be giving provincial members a “fresh start” to make their BC-specific voice heard, and hopes it can promote new regulations that could allow communities to do so to allow smaller, legal cannabis producers to work.
“When big companies get together and create industry associations, they can’t fairly share the insights of companies of all sizes, which may have different priorities,” said Sutton.
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CANNABIS SPOT PRICE: $ 5.52 per gram – This week’s price is up 1.0 percent according to Cannabis Benchmark’s Canada Cannabis Spot Index. At current exchange rates, this is equivalent to US $ 2,014 per pound.
“We know the rules are where they are, maybe we should look at them again.”
– White House press secretary Jen Psaki on whether Olympic cannabis policy should be changed since US runner Sha’Carri Richardson was suspended for testing positive for marijuana.