Pot profits will help First Nations communities, say officials

Some First Nations companies were big winners in the lottery for Saskatchewan pot permits.

First Nations companies from Battlefords, English River, etc. among winners in pot lottery

Battleford Agency Tribal Chiefs executive director Neil Sasakamoose says they're happy to have been awarded cannabis permits. (Jason Warick/CBC)

Profits from some of Saskatchewan's pot shops will fund social programs in First Nations communities, officials say.

Some First Nations companies were among the big winners in the lottery for pot permits. The Battlefords Agency Tribal Chiefs and a company called Green Tec Holdings will be able to set up a cannabis dispensary in Nipawin. President Neil Sasakamoose said his group is happy to have been selected.

"The proceeds from any of the profits we make in this industry are directed to housing, training and employment, economic development, education, anything that can help sustain some life for First Nations people on reserve and give benefits," he said.

The government announced 51 winners of pot permits Friday. Some organizations won multiple permits. All winners still have to go through a permitting process and will have one year to set up shop in a designated community once pot is legalized.

Potential profits unclear, says company president

Synergy Five Investments, a consortium representing English River, Peter Ballantyne and several Athabasca Basin First Nations, was another big winner. Synergy was won permit rights in North Battleford, Warman and Yorkton.

Synergy president Sean Willy said the company is pleased with the result of the lottery. He said the process was transparent and fair.

Willy said how profitable the business will be is still in question.

"Nobody knows the current cannabis business. We're going in to this with some good expectations, but don't want to put a guess," he said.

Willy said their investments in hotels, gas stations and other businesses will likely remain at the core of operations.