Canada’s first conference on cannabis and Indigenous Peoples kicked is underway at the Tsuu T’ina Nation Sunday.
The National Indigenous Cannabis & Hemp Conference, the country’s first such event, is hosted at the Grey Eagle Resort and Casino on the First Nation community, just southwest of Calgary, for three days.
In an open letter, Chief Lee Crowchild said the legalization of recreational cannabis has prompted a lot of discussion from Indigenous communities across the country.
“The social, economic and health benefits will have an impact on each of our communities for generations to come. It is important that we are all fully informed as to how the legalization of cannabis will affect our communities, from health and safety, to economic benefits, to our treaty rights and sovereignty.”
Speakers at the conference include everyone from cannabis company executives to investors, chief Crowchild to federal Health Minister Ginette Taylor. The agenda lists presentations on everything from harm reduction to how Indigenous communities can cash in on Canada’s nascent legal recreational cannabis industry.
Several Indigenous communities across the country have inked deals with cannabis retailers or producers in the months leading up to last month’s legalization. Fort McMurray #468 First Nation is looking to build an on-reserve cannabis production facility, in partnership with RavenQuest BioMedcan. It would be capable of producing up to 15,000 kilograms a year.
And in Quebec, the Mohawk council of Kahnawake signed a non-binding agreement with Canopy Growth Corp last October, to host a 4,650 square-metre production facility, along with a processing and packaging facility.
- But questions remain as to the autonomy of Indigenous communities when it comes to establishing — and regulating — cannabis on their traditional territory. Some, such as the Muscowpetung Salteaux First Nation in Saskatchewan, have said their communities have a sovereign right to pass their own cannabis regulations independent of provincial or federal laws.
The National Indigenous Cannabis & Hemp Conference will run from to Nov 21.