Mohawk Council at Kahnawake proposes draft Cannabis legislation

KAHNAWAKE — The Mohawk community of Kahnawake seems miles ahead of others in its attempt to control the growth and sale of Cannabis on that reserve. They are claiming jurisdiction as Mohawks and members of the Six Nations (Iroquois) as Sovereign Peoples, and therefore have the right to self determination and jurisdiction over its own territory.

In a copy of the draft law, obtained by Two Row Times, the community points to section 32 of the 1982 Constitution Act of Canada and the federally endorsed United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as confirming their right to self-determination. Kahnawake says those founding principles grant itself the rights to promote and control economic development and the right to preserve peace, order and good government within their territory.

They are seeking the right to grow, manufacture, promote, and sell cannabis at Kahnawake under that jurisdiction.

The draft pronounces the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake as a governing body in and for the community, saying it has the power and authority to enact the Law on behalf of the Mohawks of Kahnawake.

According to the draft, the purpose of the law is to protect the health and safety of the Mohawks of Kahnawake and other persons found within the Territory — in particular, to protect the health of young persons by restricting their access and exposure to cannabis and cannabis by-products.

The provisions as spelled out will not make the booming pot trade on reserve free from regulation, but rather to control all aspects of the industry in hopes of curtailing the “illegal” pot trade through appropriate regulations and controls as determined by the community.

Licensing is to be done through Kahnawake’s own channels as overseen by the Kahnawake Cannabis Control Board. This board will administer this proposed Law but will not be a policy-making body. They will, however, have authority to issue, suspend, and revoke licenses as well as monitor the safe, honest, secure and healthy use of marijuana on reserve.

This board of three members selected by the Council will be accountable to, but will function at an arm’s distance from the Council itself. These board members will be closely vetted before being considered using a number of checks and balances. They will sit on the board for no less than two years and no more than three years.

Although they will not have the power to make laws, they will administrate whatever laws are in place regarding the growth, sale and use of marijuana.

Three licences are being considered, including a production licence, a distribution licence as well as a dispensary licence, micro-cultivation licence and such other licence category that the Board may create by regulation.

Regulation will be keenly adhered to regarding the age of users buying from these licensed dispensaries.

The only persons eligible to apply for a licence will be Mohawks of Kahnawake, 21-years of age or more, a resident of the Territory and who has no criminal conviction for an indictable offence, or has received a full pardon for any such conviction.

There are proposed limitations regarding packaging and promotion of a licensed dispensary. The price will also be controlled by the board, who will establish minimum and maximum prices of product.

Investigation and enforcement of the regulation will be carried out by the Kahnawake Peacekeepers.

The 21-page draft proposal will be massaged and presented to the Mohawks of Kahnawake for ratification under the Common its Decision Making Process and on the date it is affirmed by resolution of the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake.

To date, Six Nations dispensaries have been operating throughout the Grand River Territory without any such regulations but some are trying to band together in the cause and the Kahnawake draft proposal looks like a good template to use here at Six Nations.

The traditional chiefs of Six Nations of the Grand River have already released a statement declaring they will not support the sale and use of marijuana on the territory while the elected government is still taking the matter under review.

Sherry-Lynn Pierce-Hill heads up the Cannabis Task Force for the Six Nations Elected Council and has been watching Kahnawake closely as that territory deals with the legalization of marijuana.

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