A cannabis store operating outside the Saskatchewan government’s regulatory framework is now open in a First Nation community 70 kilometres northeast of Regina after the band passed its own cannabis legislation.
According to a news release issued by the Muscowpetung First Nation, the band passed its own cannabis act on Monday, Nov. 12. A spokesperson for the band confirmed 86 per cent of band members voted in favour of the new legislation.
A spokesperson for the First Nation confirmed the Mino-Maskihki Cannabis Dispensary opened Tuesday for band members and medical patients and will open to the general public Wednesday.
A November 6 letter from Muscowpetung First Nation chief Anthony Cappo asking band members to vote in favour of the legislation states the band turned to the numbered treaty documents to find a way to bring about their own legislation.
“Within the numbered treaties and inclusive of the treaty right to health (medicine chest), the elected leadership understand that as a sovereign treaty nation, Muscowpetung has the authority to regulate the use and sale of Cannabis/Hemp within our Nation,” Cappo’s letter read.
Cappo said leadership within the First Nation have consulted with elders in their community and a legal team to “ensure this initiative has the strongest legal arguments” possible.
A focus on healing and economic development
Cappo’s letter states the legislation is looking to address accessibility, affordability and responsible or safe consumption of cannabis and hemp both recreationally and medicinally.
The First Nation will be looking to cannabis to “promote overall community health benefits,” by using the most current information available to identify its healing properties in terms of harm reduction, mental health, pain and diabetes management and cancer treatments.
According to Cappo’s letter, the band is looking to address addictions and how childhood trauma plays a role in substance misuse.
“Research shows that addictions have been linked to childhood trauma,” Cappo wrote. “Our people’s history and the legacy of government imposed residential schools is filled with traumas and their effects.”
He said can —, which could be related to the residential school era — while benefiting the community in an economic development sense.
As a revenue source, cannabis could benefit the community through employment opportunities and by injecting money to underfunded programs like mental health and youth and elder programming, the letter said.