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Eskasoni considers cannabis dispensary

From ctvnews.ca link to article by Ryan MacDonald, Feb 16th 2020

HALIFAX — The largest Mi’kmaq community east of Montreal, Eskasoni, First Nation, is taking an unprecedented step by announcing plans to sell cannabis on its reserve.

The move was announced on Friday in a news release on behalf of Chief Leroy Denny and Eskasoni band council, saying Eskasoni will be opening its own community cannabis dispensary in the near future to sell cannabis and cannabis-related products under the Mi’kmaq right of self-government.

“Creates a couple of jobs for a few people around here that really need jobs at the moment,” says Eskasoni resident, Michael Sapier. “Other than that, be kind of hard for children, having edibles laying around the house and everything – unless you’ve got them pretty locked up.”

It appears the wellbeing of young people, as well as adults, is a concern that was prompted after several students and adults at an elementary school tested positive for THC–the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis–after eating a molasses cake catered for a school event.

Days later, a four-year-old girl required medical treatment after eating a laced piece of chocolate, sparking concerns about the sale of unregulated cannabis in the community.

However, some say they have many questions concerning a potential dispensary.

“I don’t know–if it creates jobs, it’s a good thing, I guess,” says one resident. “But I don’t know how it’s being run or anything like that.”

The bold move by Eskasoni comes at the same time the Nova Scotia government announced plans for 14 new cannabis stores–including four more in Cape Breton.

The news release notes the Mi’kmaq have the inherent right of self-government and don’t need authorization or permission from Canada or the province to exercise that right. It also says since legalization, Indigenous governments have been completely left out of the process of regulating who can sell.

“It might take down crime rates, I guess; I guess that’s what they’re looking towards,” says Eskasoni resident, Rien Ryan. “And they want to bring more money into the reserve.”

Meanwhile, it remains a controversial move many will be following.

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