After years of criminalization, the Canadian government has made it legal to purchase and smoke cannabis.
And many First Nations are getting in on the industry on the ground floor.
Chief Christian Sinclair of Opaskwayak Cree Nation consulted the community and the consensus was that cannabis was a good industry for the community to get into.
“Based on our protocols we have to out council members as well as our elders. We did a discussion at a round table and looked at the idea and was very interesting because every story that was shared from each of our leaders and our elders had them share a story of someone in their family using it to treat an ailment, whether it was cancer, diabetes, lupus etcetera,” Sinclair told InFocus host Melissa Ridgen.
“Not once did they call it an illegal drug, it was referred to as Muskogee, or medicine in Cree.”
Sinclair says it’s an important opportunity for First Nations, considering the obstacles that First Nations have faced in the past.
“As First Nations we helped build Canada with the traders back from England and France and then unfortunately we were imposed with an economic act I call the Indian Act that took us out of the economy,” he said. “And all types of industries so to be able to no be a participant at the forefront without having any handcuffs.”
Matt Ryan of National Access Cannabis wants to create a welcoming environment for all cannabis users, old and new. The company has stores in Manitoba under the name META and in Alberta under the name New Leaf.
“There is a huge stigma behind cannabis right now and we’re trying to erase that as quickly as possible,” said Ryan. “So when you come into a META store for example or a New Leaf store, immediately you will feel comfortable and that’s what we want, we want comfort and education.
“Some people are going to know exactly what they want, the come in they get it and we make that transaction easy for them. But a lot of people are going to come in and be new users or soon to be users and don’t know how to select between and indica or sativa, hybrid or an oil or flower”
For new users or people who may want to try it now that its available, META and New Leaf will have Cannabis Guides to help people find the right product and strain for them.
The amount of THC in the product is important to know as different types and strains will have different effects on the users.
Seven Oaks sells recreational cannabis and is Métis owned. Co-owner Myles Fontaine said the new packaging makes it easier for consumers to know what type of marijuana there are getting.
“See in the white band, that’s for us to be able to print the THC and the CBD in there. So the TCH and CDB is going to change because it’s a plant so its going to vary from crop to crop so it allows us to print in the specific amount of THC and CDB that’s in each package,” he explained.