Pot sales on Okanagan Indian Band land a “grey area”

Click to play video: 'Should the same cannabis sales laws apply on Frist Nations land as municipal land?'
Should the same cannabis sales laws apply on Frist Nations land as municipal land?
Should the same cannabis sales laws apply on Frist Nations land as municipal land? – Oct 17, 2018

According to the provincial government, there is only one store in all of B.C. that is legally allowed to sell marijuana on what is the first day of legalization.

That store is in Kamloops. It is the only one so far, because operators went through a provincial application process that was approved by the City of Kamloops.

But at least one other dispensary is selling pot despite not having gone through that provincial process.

The dispensary is next to the Little Kingdom food store on Westside Road near Vernon. It’s on Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) land, and, unlike other dispensaries in B.C. that have been forced to shut down in order to re-apply for a licence to sell, the one on OKIB land has not.

A spokesperson for Indigenous Bloom, a partner in the dispensary, said that’s because the rules that apply to municipal land do not apply on First Nations land.

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“It’s not something they actually have jurisdiction over,” Jamie Shaw, who’s with Indigenous Bloom, told Global News. “We feel a lot of the province has moved forward without talking to reserves and treating reserves like municipalities and that is not really their rightful place.”

But Shaw admitted there is a bit of a grey area.

“I don’t believe we are breaking the spirit of the law; we might be breaking the letter of it right now,” Shaw said. “We just feel this issue did not get enough attention and that there hasn’t been enough in place. Some reserves have been relying on cannabis for a little while to help treat their elderly and help deal with addiction issues and things like that, and cutting it all off for a couple months doesn’t really make a lot of sense, so our goal is to be fully legal for sure.”

Indigenous Bloom said it is working with the federal and provincial governments to solve that grey area pertaining to dispensaries on reserves.

But a spokesperson for the Ministry of the Solicitor General told Global News that the same laws apply on First Nations land as on municipal, and that it means everyone who wants to sell marijuana has to go through the provincial process.

As for the Okanagan Indian band, Global News put in a call to get their perspective, but, as of publication time, did not hear back.


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