A village of First Nation Canadians will sell cannabis under its own laws, not federal Canadian or local provincial laws. “First Nation” is the term used for a group of indigenous peoples in Canada. To a certain extent, the First Nation self-governs its people.

Now that the community of Witset First Nation in Witset, Canada is about to go live with cannabis sales, the group has announced that it will do so on its own terms. The cannabis business will be operated in part by Kyah Development Corporation, a Witset-owned entity.

“The Witset First Nation has an inherent and constitutionally protected right to self-government over their people, their economy and their land,” Trevor Morrison, CEO of tKyah Development Corporation told news outlet Interior News.

“The Witset First Nation takes the position that this encompasses a right to exclusively govern cannabis-related activities from seed to sale on their reserve land and this right is protected by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.”

Witset is one of seven First Nations to join with the Indigenous Bloom cooperative to cultivate and distribute recreational and medicinal cannabis in British Columbia.

The B.C. Ministry Attoerny General confirmed that Indigenous Blooms activities are operating outside of the Canadian governemnt.

“Indigenous Bloom does not have a licence to produce cannabis from the federal government and it does not have access to legal cannabis from licensed producers, so its product is unregulated,” the ministry said.

The practical advantages of operating on its own terms include that the First Nations can direct cannabis taxes back toward its own peoples and lands, whereas excise tax from  government-regulated cannabis is split between provincial and federal governments.

Opposition to the move from the government is possible, however the Interior News notes that so far the Province has “tread lightly” on the issue. While law enforcement has shut down many unlicensed pot shops in the provinces, cannabis outlets on First Nation reserves “have been largely unaffected.”

Photo via Flickr/Michelle Grewe

Natalie