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Six Nations has set its own cannabis laws

Minimum age set at 19; vendors must provide band with 8 per cent of monthly sales for community projects.

From Hamilton Spectator link to article
By Teviah Moro March 15th 2019

OHSWEKEN — Six Nations Elected Council has passed a law to regulate cannabis in its territory.

The band office conducted community consultations before approving the law that lays out regulations for marijuana cultivation, distribution, sales and use.

The 22-page document says the law is meant to “protect the health and safety” of Six Nations, the most populous First Nation in Canada.

It also says the regulations, approved last month, are also meant to “prevent interference by external law enforcement into Six Nations domestic affairs.”

The law stipulates eight per cent of a vendor’s sales must be handed over to the band office at the end of each month to go toward community projects.

“Council will hold the community contribution funds in trust until the community identifies priority areas for the funds to be utilized.”

The minimum age to cultivate, distribute, sell and use recreational marijuana is 19. Nobody is allowed to smoke or vape in public, including around schools, longhouses and churches.

Those who break the law face mandatory education sessions upon the first offence, and then fines up to $1,000 for a second transgression and $5,000 for each one after that.

While Six Nations says the law doesn’t require approval by other governments, it “may serve as the basis for the harmonization” with regulations in other jurisdictions.”

The document also states a licence issued by authorities outside the territory “has no validity within Six Nations.”

The Ontario government aims to have Ontario’s first legal pot retailers open for business by April. It has limited them to 25 at first, due to a short supply of legal marijuana.

Hamilton, for instance, has two stores nearing the authorization finish line, while Burlington has an operator awaiting final approvals.

A Six Nations spokesperson didn’t respond to request a for comment Thursday.

In August, elected Chief Ava Hill said her community wasn’t going to wait for Premier Doug Ford’s government to dictate the terms of legalized cannabis.

“The days of them sitting and telling us this is how it’s going to be need to end.”

Where the provincial Tories see First Nations in its cannabis strategy isn’t cut and dried.

“Ontario has and will continue to engage with First Nations people communities and organizations to discuss interests, perspectives and concerns, and consider opportunities for collaboration,” Brian Gray, spokesperson for the Ministry of the Attorney General, said in an email.

“Attorney General (Caroline) Mulroney has met with Six Nations to discuss cannabis legalization. No agreements have been reached to date, however, Ontario will continue to work with First Nations communities who have expressed interest in an agreement,” Gray added.

The band council plans to establish a cannabis control commission to oversee the law within six months of it coming into force.

905-526-3264 | @TeviahMoro

905-526-3264 | @TeviahMoro

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