Legal cannabis arrives in Thompson in partnership with Manitoba First Nation

People in Thompson, Man., can now buy cannabis legally in their community.

Chief Marcel Moody says joint venture could bring much-needed economic development

Thompson Mayor Colleen Smook was the first customer through the doors at Wednesday's opening of a Meta Supply store in the northern Manitoba city. (Ramraajh Sharvendiran/CBC)

People in Thompson can now buy cannabis legally in their community.

Meta Cannabis Supply opened the northern Manitoba city's first marijuana shop on Wednesday, on land owned by Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation.

"A lot of the customers are amazed, like, 'I can actually buy this? I can buy that? Wow, OK, gimme four,'" said store manager Dustin Moore, who has helped to open some of the other Meta locations in the province.

The Thompson store, on Cree Road at the Mystery Lake Hotel, is the sixth in Manitoba for Meta. Meta Supply is the retail brand for National Access Cannabis.​

National Access Cannabis aims to open at least 14 recreational cannabis stores in Manitoba, with four of them operating in partnership with various First Nations, by early 2019.

The Meta store in Thompson is the sixth one in the province, with National Access Cannabis planning to open 'at least' 14 by early 2019. (Ramraajh Sharvendiran/CBC)

"This new store will act as another gateway, providing safe and legal access to recreational cannabis for the more than 50,000 people that use Thompson as a shopping and travel-through hub," said Mark Goliger, CEO of National Access Cannabis, in a news release.

Nisichawayasihk Chief Marcel Moody said the joint venture may bring some much-needed economic development to his community, which struggles with a shortage of housing, infrastructure and services.

"It's a step for us to attain sovereignty. It might not happen in my lifetime but certainly, if these projects are managed properly, I think we can get there," he said.

Shoppers check out the supply at Thompson's first recreational cannabis store on Wednesday. (Ramraajh Sharvendiran/CBC)

"People are desperate for housing. We need 400-500 homes in that community. We need services that the government does not provide … and so we have to create our own economy to be self-sustaining.

"We will never become sovereign if we depend on governments all the time."

Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation is based in Nelson House, about 65 kilometres west of Thompson. Thompson is about 650 kilometres north of Winnipeg.