Muscowpetung First Nation, just south of Fort Qu’Appelle, Sask., opened their own cannabis store about a week and a half ago after passing their own cannabis bylaws earlier in November.
Chief Anthony Cappo has said they are a sovereign nation with the authority to operate Mino-Maskihki, the cannabis store.
However, the store and community do not have one of the 51 provincial licenses. This is an area where Justice Minister Don Morgan says federal legislation gives the province jurisdiction.
Saskatchewan gov’t to meet with First Nation operating unlicensed cannabis store
Cappo met with Morgan Monday to discuss the store. After the meeting, Cappo declined an on-camera interview, but said the meeting was positive.
He said they are working on arranging a date for a follow-up, and will comment further once the matter is no longer before the minister.
Morgan said the province reiterated its position that it is “unacceptable” to have an unlicensed cannabis retailer.
“There’s a price and a value to an individual cannabis retailer and you can’t have that watered down or diminished by somebody running an unlicensed or illegal one nearby where people would go to instead. We made it clear that’s something that has to be addressed,” Morgan said.
Previously, Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority Minister Gene Makowsky said the province will look at releasing another batch of permits 12 to 18 months after the initial legalization day, Oct. 17, 2018.
When asked if the issue of a future permit application from Muscowpetung came up, Morgan deferred the question to Cappo.
“If it comes down to an issue of jurisdiction, then we’re off to court. If it’s something we can work through, then we’ll have that discussion,” Morgan said.
The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) has put their support behind Muscowpetung, saying they have the jurisdiction to self-govern cannabis.
FSIN threatens province with legal action over Sask. First Nations cannabis rights
Morgan said he would rather not see this issue go to court.
“I’m also the minister of labour and I always say the best deals are worked out at the table, so hopefully we can have something productive, something worthwhile rather than spending time in court,” Morgan said.
The minister added there was not any talk of creating a two-tiered system for cannabis, similar to the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA) and SaskGaming.
There is no date set for the follow-up meeting, but Morgan said all parties would rather it be sooner than later.