Sudbury

Anishinabek Nation struggles to set pot policy amid unanswered questions

The Anishinabek Nation says it's still very unclear what legalizing marijuana will look like in its territory, when it stops being an illicit drug in the rest of Canada.

Indigenous leaders still looking for answers on how federal rules and regulations will apply on reserve

An employee at First Nations Medicinal in Wahnapitae First Nation measures out an order of marijuana for a customer. (Erik White/CBC)

The Anishinabek Nation says it's still very unclear what legalizing marijuana will look like in its territory, when it stops being an illicit drug in the rest of Canada later this year.

Leaders met this week to discuss pot policy, but Deputy Grand Chief Glen Hare says there are still many questions about how federal rules and regulations will apply on reserve.

"Nobody knows where we're going. Nobody. Not us, not the government, so it's a very dark area. We don't know where we're going with this thing. But wherever we're going, our communities, our citizens need to know what's coming," he says.
Glen Hare is the Deputy Grand Chief of the Anishnabek Nation (Anishnabek Nation)

Hare says after the meeting there is consensus that individual Anishinabek communities should decide, preferably in a referendum, whether or not they'd welcome marijuana dispensaries and other pot-related businesses

Some predict that legal weed will bring a much needed economic boost to First Nations, with some dispensaries already opening up, including on Wahnapitae First Nation near Sudbury.

But personally, Hare says he'd be happy if marijuana remained an illegal substance in Anishinabek territory.

"We have issues that are tough enough now and then bringing this stuff into our communities, we're going backwards. I don't know where the government is coming from at all with this thing," he says.

Like other Indigenous leaders across Canada, Hare also feels that First Nations should get an automatic cut of marijuana tax revenue to help cover the costs of extra policing and other side effects that will come with legalization. 
 

About the Author

Erik White

journalist

Erik White is a CBC journalist based in Sudbury. He covers a wide range of stories about northern Ontario. Connect with him on Twitter @erikjwhite. Send story ideas to erik.white@cbc.ca