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Pat Beggan

First Canadian Dispensary on Indigenous Land Opens

The Opaskwayak Cree Nation (OCN) in Manitoba, Canada is opening the first legal dispensary on First Nations land, according to the CBC.

The retail store, called Meta Cannabis Supply Co., is located in the northern Manitoba community’s mall. The shop carries eight different strains of cannabis with prices starting at $8 per gram. The OCN store will serve an area of approximately 30,000 people, 3,000 of which live on the reserve. They expect to take in about $5,000 a day in sales.

The store is a partnership between the OCN and National Access Cannabis, who will supply the store. The OCN owns 51 percent of the operation; National Access Cannabis owns 49 percent.

The OCN said profits from the store will pay down debt and fund programs for language revitalization, health, and recreation.

Unlike many First Nations reserves in Manitoba, the OCN is not “dry” and does not forbid alcohol or cannabis. The leader of the OCN, Onekanew Christian Sinclair said the decision to allow alcohol was made 20 years ago.

“It showed the maturity of our community in being able to allow our community to partake in those types of products, and the fact being that if they don’t get it there, they’re just going to drive across the bridge two minutes away and buy it in the local establishments. So why not be a part of that market and show that our community is mature like anybody else?” — Christian Sinclair, leader of the OCN, in the report

There exist unlicensed dispensaries operating on indigenous land elsewhere in Canada but there is contention over the tribes’ right to operate them. Indigenous peoples have asserted their sovereignty and law enforcement has yet to engage in any sort of crackdown.

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