Council and Cannabis Commission condemn cannabis giveaway at Santa Claus parade

Six Nations Elected Council and the Six Nations Cannabis Commission condemned the handing out of cannabis at the recent Six Nations Santa Claus.

“I think it’s inappropriate and it should never have happened,” Six Nations Coun. Audrey Powless-Bomberry said at elected council’s finance meeting on Monday.

The Six Nations Cannabis Commission (SNCC) called the incident “unfortunate” in a press release sent out on Monday.

“It has come to our attention that an unlicensed dispensary in the community participated in the Parade – a child focused event.  This float had children or youth dressed in Dalmatian outfits and was allegedly handing out cannabis products as the parade proceeded down its route. The optics of having children associated with a Cannabis float in a Santa Claus parade generates a misconception of the relationship between children and Cannabis. Which is completely sending the wrong message!”

The commission also said it was “disheartening” that the float won first place.

“The Six Nations Cannabis Commission has been striving and working diligently for the delivery of safe and tested products, while ensuring these products are safely kept away from children.”

The business, according to council, is called Off The Track Some Shop owned by Brandon Green-Styres.

Coun. Alaina VanEvery said she was part of an online discussion group where the incident was discussed and that the business owner – who is an independent cannabis shop not under the umbrella of the SNCC – only handed out cannabis products to people he knew were of age.

“A really productive conversation was had by all,” said VanEvery.

She said the store owner agreed to never do similar giveaways again.

“The conversation was positive.”

The business is part of a group called the Six Nations People’s Cannabis Coalition.

A contingent of local cannabis business did not pay registration fees or acquire a Six Nations license to operate a cannabis business. Instead they allied in a coalition of businesses that are protesting the community reporting standards and community financial contributions required for licensed operators.

The commission said the incident wouldn’t have happened if the business agreed to the Six Nations Cannabis Law drafted and finalized by the commission in 2021.

“If the Commission’s desire to have all establishments licensed within the community was realized, there would not have been a Cannabis-related float unless it was based purely on safety and education – or we would have taken proper measures to prevent such an incident from happening since the legalization of Cannabis.  The float in question belonged to an unlicensed, and independent cannabis entity that operates within the territory but as such, the Six Nations Cannabis Commission has no control over any unlicensed establishments.”

SNCC Chair Kathy Mair said nobody under 19 should ingest cannabis unless a doctor prescribes it and their concern is that the products from businesses who aren’t licensed aren’t tested.

“All of our products are tested,” Mair said. “Because it’s not tested, you don’t know what’s in there. That’s why we were so adamant that something was put out.”

She said when she spoke with elected council, they “were not happy” about the incident.

“We’ve had many calls (from community members). We’re getting a lot of support.

Coun. Greg Frazer said elected council will be specifying its events are alcohol and cannabis-free moving forward.

Coun. Powless-Bomberry said cannabis is a mind-changer that goes against Haudenosaunee values and principles.

“I think it’s super inappropriate. It should never have happened. I do think we need to put some reminders out there. We are governing through our Haudenosaunee values and one of the main values is no mind-changers.”

The SNCC has a stamp on its products for sale which it said indicates its products are safe and that a portion of the proceeds from every sale goes back to benefit the Six Nations community.

“We operate within a strict regulatory framework and prioritize education and safety.  We encourage all Six Nations community members to voice their support with the Six Nations Cannabis Commission in its desire to have a safe, tested, and educated community in relation to Cannabis. All SNCC licensed Producers and Retailers are held to a high standard, and we encourage the Six Nations Elected Council to look into this incident further.”

Elected Council is expected to put out a press release about the incident, said Mair.

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