OHSWEKEN — Six Nations Elected Council and the community’s cannabis regulator issued a stern caution to community members Tuesday not to engage in illegal cannabis activity.
The statement says, “we believe it is important to highlight to the community that anyone willingly engaging in illegal activities in respect of cannabis is at risk of criminal and civil liability – and, more importantly, is endangering the health and safety of individuals in our community.”
Last Wednesday a collective of proposed cannabis business owners, the Six Nations People’s Cannabis Coalition, announced they would be opening cannabis retail locations illegally on July 1.
SNGR passed the Six Nations Cannabis Control Law in February 2019 and established a cannabis regulatory body, the Six Nations Cannabis Commission, in May 2019.
Last month, the cannabis regulator presented an update to SNGR outlining the pending legal framework is expected to open applications to cannabis producers this fall.
The coalition group says they are unhappy with the Commission’s timeline bringing legal cannabis retail activity open by fall 2021 and have decided to open illegally on July 1, bringing black market cannabis activity onto Six Nations.
Legal, regulated cannabis is routinely tested for over 96 pesticides and other contaminants including mycotoxins and fungus — as well as bacteria like E.Coli and Streptococcus that can multiply during the curing process. It is also tested for cross-contamination with other substances like illicit drugs such as fentanyl, cocaine, and methamphetamine.
In contrast, black market cannabis is not routinely tested for contaminants and is subject to being polluted with heavy metals or other illicit drug material which can severely impact human health.
The coalition group shared a proposed interim framework for cannabis activity online but did not disclose what health and safety guidelines participants are being held to, nor any proposed enforcement action to protect consumers, business owners or the community at large.
A recent connection to black market cannabis hit home on Six Nations earlier this month when an organized crime ring was busted by OPP and Six Nations Police, hauling in $2.5 million dollars in illicit cannabis products, along with 1.14 kilograms of cocaine, 10.2 kilograms of Piperidone, 1.3 kilograms of fentanyl, and $236,750 in CAD currency. Cigarettes and vehicles were also seized in the raid. Two Six Nations men are facing charges as part of the two-year investigation into organized crime stretching from Toronto, all the way to Montreal and Vancouver. A total of 16 people were charged.
The Six Nations Cannabis Commission issued a letter to the community on June 17 addressing the link between illicit cannabis on the territory to organized crime, saying, “This is a case in point to why the development of a regulatory framework for the cannabis industry within our community is necessary. We must combat illegal activity and protect the community from organized crime. Our framework will include comprehensive background checks on all potential applicants, including their associates.”
Six Nations Police issued a statement ahead of legalization in 2018 affirming that they will be enforcing the Cannabis Act in the community and again in 2019 when edible products became legalized in Canada.
“Strict Federal Safety and Quality Regulations protect public health and community safety. As such, retailers currently selling CBD oil or other cannabis-based products in their stores are required to immediately cease the sale of these products. The Six Nations Police Service will continue to act by enforcing and prosecuting those involved in this illegal activity,” said SNP.