The Six Nations Cannabis Commission is calling out banks for refusing to provide bank accounts to Six Nations cannabis retailers after one of their member stores was robbed this week.
“The Six Nations Cannabis Commission in the interest of the Six Nations community, is calling for immediate action to address the alarming issue of robberies targeting First Nations cannabis retail locations,” the commission said in a press release issued Tuesday. “The recent robbery, located on Six Nations territory, has highlighted the urgent need for banks to recognize and support the legalized cannabis industry on First Nations. A local business committed to providing safe and tested cannabis products allowing individuals to access their medication at a discounted rate suffered substantial financial losses due to the theft.”
Two of the major banks, which are located in Ohsweken, refuse to allow cannabis retailers to open business accounts.
Cannabis businesses and the commission have resorted to storing cash at secret or secure locations instead of putting it into a bank account, the commission revealed at a recent band council meeting.
The commission calls the refusal discriminatory.
Six Nations came up with its own cannabis law and regulations which were recognized by Six Nations of the the Grand River elected council in 2021, but Ontario does not recognize Six Nations’ law.
Because of those legality issues, banks have not agreed to provide Six Nations cannabis retailers with business accounts.
“The discriminatory denial of banking on our sovereign territory for First Nations cannabis businesses is not only dangerous, but also unethical,” the commission says. “The mistreatment of Indigenous people that, for centuries, subjected us to systemic racism by the Canadian government, continues. Regrettably, this injustice persists within the cannabis industry on First Nations territories.”
The commission said, “the constant targeting of our community members with violence and crime is unacceptable. Budtenders working in these establishments are often traumatized by these incidents.”
The commission called on banks to open accounts for cannabis retailers.
“We call on financial institutions to stand by their own words and regulations, honour and provide essential banking services, including secure accounts, to protect our businesses and community members from further harm. Ending systemic racism within the cannabis industry is essential for the well-being and prosperity of First Nations communities. We urge all First Nations and allies to stand against discrimination and support our fight for equality.”