Six Nations Cannabis Commission will be operational by new year

The Six Nations Cannabis Commission will be operational by the new year and applications for permits will be ready by the end of the month.

“I’m happy to report that the cannabis industry will be up and running in Six Nations in the new year,” said Commission Chair Nahnda Garlow at Six Nations Elected Council’s Political Liaison meeting on Monday.

What’s more, she said, cannabis production applications will be ready by the end of November.

The commission, which was created in spring 2019 and is funded by Six Nations Elected Council, was tasked with coming up with recommendations on how to operate the cannabis industry on Six Nations.

The commission operates at arm’s length from council and was mandated to do background work, research, interviews, and data collection to make recommendations to council on how to harmonize the local cannabis industry with federal and provincial standards. The commission was also tasked with developing recommendations to avoid any industry monopoly on Six Nations, while maintaining community health and safety.

“To date, we’ve done that work,” said Garlow.

The recommendations have been provided to elected council.

Last month, Coun. Helen Miller questioned if certain councillors were in a conflict of interest when it comes to cannabis on Six Nations. Elected Council did not participate in commission meetings while the legal opinion was sought in the past month.

The commission advised council to seek an independent legal opinion on how to apply council’s own conflict of interest guidelines on cannabis laws on the territory.

“This has been an extremely complicated situation to navigate,” said Garlow, adding that the council conflict of interest policy doesn’t address the situation the commission finds itself in.

She added that the commission is not a lawmaking entity but was simply tasked to come up with recommendations regarding the industry on Six Nations.

The cannabis permit applications, which will be ready by the end of November, will be reviewed by the commission. The review will include an assessment for any environmental impact the business could have on the community, if it’s close to a school, longhouse, burial ground, daycare or wetland or flood prone area.

“All of those areas are guidance from the Six Nations community,” said Garlow. “We’re still collecting information on the culturally sensitive areas in the community and are still seeking community feedback on that.”

Last month, the commission unveiled an app that would help determine the safest location for cannabis businesses, with the least amount of impact on the environment, community infrastructure and community members.

After one of the members resigned last month, the commission found itself with two vacancies which they are currently trying to fill, said Garlow.

“Now that a large part of the research has been done, we’re starting to see the potential for cannabis at Six Nations,” said Garlow. “Six Nations has the potential to build a cannabis-based economy. This will lead to economic growth that can make lasting change for Six Nations band members.”

The commission is also expected to present a financial report to council’s finance committee on Dec. 7.

Kim Thomas, who was hired as a legal advisor for the commission, lauded the work of the commission so far and said, “This is a tremendous undertaking. There are a lot of eyes on Six Nations.”

Elected Chief Mark Hill admitted the commission has undergone controversy since its creation and thanked Garlow and Thomas for their work.

“It seems like it’s been a very long time coming,” said Chief Hill.

In the meantime, a group of community members called the Six Nations People’s Cannabis Coalition has also worked to self-regulate the cannabis industry on Six Nations, with some shops opening up over the past few months on the territory.

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