First Nations in Canada want more control over legalized marijuana

Canada’s First Nations are demanding the right to regulate the sale and distribution of recreational marijuana in their communities, and some near urban areas want to adopt more business-friendly rules to create jobs and earn revenue.

Chiefs representing some 630 reserves at the Assembly of First Nations last week were in general agreement that they, and not federal and provincial governments, should be the ones to set the rules on marijuana retail and use in their communities, the Globe and Mail reported.

Residents of First Nations are exempt from taxation, including on tobacco products. It’s expected that will be extended to recreational and medical marijuana.

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However, whether First Nations will be allowed to play by their own rules when it comes to cannabis is still an open question — and it’s one the courts may ultimately have to decide.

The Assembly formed a committee on the legalization of marijuana led by Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day and Quebec Regional Chief Ghislain Picard.

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Day said some communities may not feel they are bound to abide by rules imposed by the provincial government, including on age and distribution frameworks.

Oneida Nation of the Thames, for example, is home to a marijuana dispensary, and the people who run it do not believe they need a licence, Chief Randall Phillips said.

“We will decide who gets it. We will decide how it gets distributed,” he said.

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Some chiefs are calling on the government to delay legalization.

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