Lewis Mitchell, a former police chief on the Mohawk territory of Akwesasne, chuckled when asked if he thought he would have trouble finding customers when his first batch of cannabis is ready for sale around summertime.
“No, not at all,” the president of Seven Leaf said at his company’s production facility along the St. Lawrence River, about 130 kilometres southwest of Montreal. They just won’t be in his own community, at least not for now.
It has been six months since the federal Liberal government legalized marijuana in Canada, leaving it up to the provinces to manage sale and distribution. First Nations people have jumped in on the action, but reserve politics and jurisdictional issues have complicated legalization in Indigenous communities.
Akwesasne is a glaring example.
The Mohawk territory is located within the borders of Ontario, Quebec and New York State. Quebec created a provincial retail monopoly for cannabis and isn’t issuing licenses to non-state actors. Ontario, meanwhile, capped its retail licenses at 25 and