‘This is our sovereign right to operate and the cultural aspect goes beyond anything else:’ owner
From Peterborough This Week link to article by Angela Lavallee, Feb 26, 2018
Curve Lake First Nation has its first medical marijuana dispensary.
TRICAN opened at 1262 Mississauga St. on Friday, Feb. 23. The new shop has a café-style feel to it and all product is behind a glass enclosure. Dispensary owner Tammy Banks says flower, edibles, cremes and oils with both Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD) can be purchased at the dispensary.
She says the establishment is not a pot shop. Banks is among several other Ontario First Nations people who have jumped into the business aspect of legalization of marijuana, as the province prepares to open its own stores in July.
“Technically, they (police) can and come and shut us down, but I’ve made sure the lines of communication were and are kept open,” says Banks.
Banks would like to alleviate the stigma surrounding medical cannabis and, although she’s never been an advocate of legalization, she says medical marijuana use is proven to be just that.
“Health Canada has deemed medicinal cannabis as a medicine,” she says.
“Sure, there is a business side of this, but also medical reports are not something to ignore. But, also this is our sovereign right to operate and the cultural aspect goes beyond anything else,” added Banks.
Banks says if it gets busy, she will hire band members to keep the economic side within the first nation, but for now she has a small crew of family helping her out.
Banks says she has roughly 50 clients and 40 per cent of them have medicinal cards; the rest don’t need them.
“Our clients are in the 40-plus to 60 age group. We are very strict on age of 19, to which we’ve adopted into our business,” she says.
At Monday’s open council meeting, Curve Lake Chief Phyllis Williams reminded Banks the First Nation follows federal law and as it stands now, cannabis is illegal.
But Williams says her band council has little to no say over decision to operate, nor do any current or new business owners need permission when it comes to selling cannabis. She says the issue has not been talked about at the council table, but plans on discussions with the community in the near future.
“We only ask if a business is interested, to have the courtesy of informing council of any potential and environmental impacts,” stated Williams in an email.
Four other First Nations – Alderville, Six Nations, Tyendinaga, and Akwasasne – all have opened shops for the sale of cannabis and, according to the business owners, are using their treaty rights within their community, but some face backlash from reserve police.
The shop is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.