First Nations and the provinces should look to US state-tribal Compacts as a pragmatic way forward for cannabis regulation on-reserve.
Federal lawmakers ignored the call to delay cannabis legalization until First Nations could be adequately consulted on the regulation of recreational sales. Now it is provinces that must engage meaningfully, and they should not make the assumption that their laws should apply on-reserve. The draconian approaches of the past that restricted First Nations involvement in the legal supply chain of tobacco – a traditional plant we have grown for generations – simply led to unregulated sales in Ontario and Quebec.
In the absence of progress on province-to-First Nation negotiations on cannabis regulation, the tobacco pattern is reproducing itself with cannabis. At Tyendinaga First Nation, the tobacco smoke shops inspired the “Green Mile,” a nickname for an outcrop of cannabis stores. These latest retail outlets and the leaf and product being promoted by their owners do not comply with federal and provincial licensing laws.
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