Hemp & Medical/Recreational Marijuana and Economic Development

With Canada’s legislation that went into effect this year legalizing the growth and use of marijuana for recreational use, there has been a lot of push for First Nations to be involved in the potential revenue stream, some have already taken the steps to start business while others are involved at different stages of creating partnerships to begin producing product.

Though the legalization of marijuana for recreational use and personal growth is new, this business concept is not as new as everyone is lead to believe, government and private business have been growing what is called ‘medical’ marijuana for years, and hemp has been legal since the mid 80’s, there are already many established companies who have been doing business in this area since then.

We have learned through our dealings with business, mining industry, and alternative energy projects that real partnerships take time to create; there are too many companies who prey upon First Nations when it comes to business, we have signed too many MOU’s that have never amounted to anything. When it comes to any potential partnership, we want to ensure that there will be real and long lasting benefit to our Nation, along with an assurance that our members have an opportunity for meaningful employment and the ability to advance within the organization.

When considering any potential business, it’s important that we educate ourselves on the industry or concept; we have attended a few forums and workshops specific to this topic, and have been doing our own research online, it’s amazing to learn about the many different uses for this plant that are not common knowledge.  We are providing this information session for the Nation in the hopes of answering the many questions that people have around the subject. Due to the negative stigma that is attached to the plant and its use as a drug, we want to ensure the community is involved in the direction the Nation should take.

Treaty states:

“…., no intoxicating liquor shall be allowed to be introduced or sold, and all laws now in force, or hereafter to be enacted, to preserve Her Indian subjects inhabiting the reserves or living elsewhere within Her North-west Territories from the evil influence of the use of intoxicating liquors, shall be strictly enforced.”

As a supporter of all articles of Treaty, we don’t in anyway support the use or sale of any intoxicating substance on our lands; we are more interested in the low ‘THC’ producing variety known as HEMP as a potential economic development initiative. There are many uses for this plant, it has the ability to be used to produce food, clothing, building materials, bio-fuel and, the oil derived from the flower has the calming effect to symptoms for seizures, Parkinson’s, etc.

The opportunity for ‘growing’ is also an item for consideration; the one thing we have is land, we could designate a portion to the growth of the product, which in turn could potentially create employment.

We value your thoughts and input on this topic.

Thank you,

Okimahkan Roy Petit

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