The move to regulate cannabis on the territory is important work. As I mentioned in my video statement to the community, along with Elected Chief Mark Hill and Kim Thomas, legal counsel for the Six Nations Cannabis Commission — the liberal government enacted the Cannabis Act after zero consultation with on-reserve leadership across Canada.
That meant that the only way for First Nations anywhere in Canada to legally participate in the cannabis business was to submit to federal and provincial taxation. The people of Six Nations said they did not want that.
Instead, the Elected Council created the arms-length Six Nations Cannabis Commission find a way to collect donations from cannabis businesses in a measured and regulated way to ensure that wealth from the cannabis industry is shared with all band members.
Initially, the 2019 version of the Six Nations Cannabis Law asked dispensary owners to submit 8% of their total sales back to the Commission.
During our community feedback sessions in February 2020, just before the pandemic hit, we heard loud and clear that the people of Six Nations did not want to do that because it was too much like a system of taxation.
So, we removed it from the cannabis law.
Instead, our Commission created a system where a portion of all cannabis sales on the territory will be donated back to the community. It is similar to when you buy a product in the grocery store and it has a label that says, ‘a portion of the sales of this product is donated back to fund breast cancer research’.
It is important that we remember to listen to one another with good minds and not to let preconceived notions, misinformation or fears bring confusion.
Getting a license to operate in cannabis on the territory doesn’t require anyone to surrender their personal convictions or political beliefs.
It requires producers to disclose their production practices so we can ensure that only safe, secure cannabis is being grown on our territory.
For dispensaries who have a license — it means that they are disclosing to where they are getting their supply from, so our Commission can review and background check those suppliers and ensure that real nation to nation trade is taking place and that our community does not become a cover for organized crime.
It also means that our Commission will ensure that any products sold at licensed dispensaries are coming from approved producers who are packaging products safely.
Protecting high potency drugs disguised as children’s candy and everyday snack foods can never rationally be described as an act of Haudenosaunee sovereignty.
Especially in an era where indigenous parents are regularly scrutinized by the child welfare system. Haudenosaunee parents are good parents and our people would never hold space for someone to make a profit by adding risk to our children’s lives.
As Chief Commissioner, I am committed to helping protect the rights of our community to join the cannabis industry safely and not be subjected to federal and provincial taxation. Our Elected Chief and Council will advance those principles of economic sovereignty that are in the Six Nations Cannabis Control Law and are consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Chief Commissioner, SNCC