Nfld. & Labrador

Conne River opens Indigenous-owned cannabis store after green light from community

The Cannabis Boutique in the Miawpukek First Nation opened Thursday to a crush of customers.

The Cannabis Boutique in the Miawpukek First Nation opened Thursday to a crush of customers

Aubrey Joe, right, makes the first purchase at the Miawpukek Cannabis Boutique in the Miawpukek First Nation. (Miawpukek Mi'kamawey Mawi'omi/Facebook)

The Miawpukek First Nation is celebrating the opening of its Cannabis Boutique, which it says is the first Indigenous-owned and -operated marijuana store in Newfoundland.

The shop survived a crush of customers Thursday after opening at noon. Operations manager David Joe said about 450 people had stopped by the halfway mark of the store's opening hours.

That included a line of about 35 people who witnessed the opening celebration.

Shayne McDonald, vice-chief of the Miawpukek First Nation, cuts a ceremonial ribbon to mark the opening of the cannabis boutique. (Miawpukek Mi'kamawey Mawi'omi/Facebook)

"We've been sold out of two strands already today, but we do still have supply left," he told CBC Radio's On The Go. Joe said the store was able to stockpile some product as the opening day was delayed.

Community support

The Cannabis Boutique is the first licensed cannabis store on the south coast of Newfoundland. Joe said his store had already seen customers from Harbour Breton and the surrounding area who wanted to save themselves the two-hour drive to Grand Falls-Windsor.

Joe said the store operators had to make sure the First Nation would support a marijuana store.

"When we went through developing a proposal, chief and council here required us to go door to door and survey everybody at 19 years of age and up," he said. "About 83 per cent said they would like to see it."

Shayne McDonald, a vice-chief of the Miawpukek First Nation, cuts a cake to celebrate the store's opening. (Miawpukek Mi'kamawey Mawi'omi/Facebook)

The store will reinvest two per cent of the purchase revenue into programs offered by the First Nation to combat substance use disorders.

"That was one of the concerns that the community has, and we addressed it that we'd be putting so much back into our substance abuse programs, and other programs that the band offers," he said.

"We looked at it, from my point of view, as an economic vehicle to move our community forward that would generate revenue and jobs for us." 

In a Facebook post, Chief Mi'sel Joe called the opening a "momentous event."

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