A Global Reflection Of Cannabis Legalisation On First Nations People In Canada

The Assembly of First Nations convened its first-ever National Cannabis Summit 2019 – discussion which included issues of jurisdiction, health, and social and economic impacts. The summit was one of the most comprehensive examinations to date of the implications and issues surrounding First Nations and legal cannabis. For Te Rau Ora, the Summit was an opportunity to hear and learn from the First Nations people of Canada, about their shared views on their legislation the Cannabis Act 2018.  Te Rau Ora were able to interview first nations peoples about their experiences. The following are some of the learnings:

  • Cannabis became legal in Canada on October 17th, 2018, when the Cannabis Act and related legislation came into force.
  • The federal government did not fully engage or consult with First Nations people on how its proposed legislation would ensure respect and implementation of First Nations rights, title and jurisdiction.
  • There must be ample time, discussion, education and time to get ready  and
  • Involvement in the licensing process is important as it relates to First Nations peoples.
  • There are challenges with capacity in policing bylaws;
  • Every decision should be based on culture and guided by values!
  • First Nations jurisdiction “Own laws – enforcement and protection.”

Thunderbird Partnership Foundation

While at the summit Te Rau Ora had the pleasure of connecting to the Thunderbird Partnership Foundation lead by Carole Hopkins and Sherry Huff communications manager. The two wahine toa have offered to provide their ongoing support to Māori in understanding the cannabis environment from an indigenous view point, which will be helpful for Māori as we enter into this next phase.

Photo (left to right): Carole Hopkins (Executive Director of the Thunderbird Partnership Foundation – a division of the National Native Addictions Partnership Foundation), Jack McDonald (Advocacy Advisor Māori, New Zealand Drug Foundation), Sherry Huff (Communications Manager, Thunderbird Partnership Foundation) and Tracey Potiki (Te Rau Ora)