Sunday, July 8, 2018

The Right Way to Solve First Nations and Cannabis Issues

It’s a controversial opinion in 2018 that First Nations should be treated equally like everyone else. 

I don’t know why.

The history of the human race is one of conquest. Homo sapiens dominated the scene so other archaic hominids didn’t stand a chance. Then, once they were gone, we hunted large fauna. Then, once our natural predators were gone, we turned on each other.

The conquest of North America is in recent memory. As opposed to driving out Neanderthals from Europe, which happened around 40,000 years ago.

But even the residential schools of the 20th century aren’t the fault of regular people living today. I am not guilty nor responsible for the actions of my ancestors just because I descend from white Europeans.

Of course, this is all very politically incorrect. And seemingly has little to do with cannabis.

But the passage of the Cannabis Act almost didn’t make it because First Nations groups felt they weren’t properly consulted. After what the introduction of alcohol has done to their communities, they were (and still are) fearful about what the introduction of a new substance would create.

But this is the same illogic the police are using. 

Cannabis is not a new drug. I guarantee you there is youth, whether Fist Nations or not, that are smoking cannabis. Legal or not.

But that didn’t stop Liberal Saskatchewan Senator Lillian Dyck from putting an amendment in Bill C-45 to delay legalization up to a year. Just so a special class of Canadians could negotiate a revenue-sharing agreement.

Which goes to show you — it was really more about the money. As it always is. People in power often pay lip service to “youth” or “community” when they actually care about excising their own power and becoming rich in the process.

Why we turn our blinders on First Nations is beyond me. They’re human like the rest of us. Perfectly capable of deceit and corruption. 

And now it should be obvious.

Nova Scotia First Nations want an exemption from the provincial government’s retail monopoly.

The Mi'kmaq community has teamed up Olympian Ross Rebagliati to roll out a "seed to sale" cannabis operation. 

The Sipekne'katik First Nation wants to grow cannabis on their reserve and sell directly to consumers, while Millbrook First Nation wants retail locations outside the provincial Crown corporation bureaucracy.

The Nova Scotia government has obviously said no, but First Nations are arguing that their lands are under federal jurisdiction and therefore the provincial government has no say.

The speedy passage of the Cannabis Act will probably take the blame. Since the Liberals didn’t consult with First Nations for 365 days straight, the legal and constitutional battles will be the fault of government negligence.

Of course, this all could have been avoided if the country actually on ran on liberal principles and legalized cannabis in that fashion.

At the end of the day, the courts are likely to side with the province on this one. Provincial laws apply to reserves. Full stop. Unless a First Nation community could show how cannabis has been an integral part of its culture or tradition.

But considering that most First Nations attempted to delay the bill due to concerns about health and safety and youth, this may be an uphill battle for them.

Still, if they can work out an exemption from provincial monopolies due to their special status, then perhaps there’s hope for the rest of us.

After all, despite how the former Governor General had to apologize for this, the fact remains: First Nations are immigrants too.

Sorry, not sorry. Their creation stories are as dumb as other religious creation stories. Human migration to the Americas is estimated to have begun around 16,500 years ago.

Perhaps we can all become tax exempt and start operating outside the government’s crony-capitalism cannabis industry.

After all, I’m a 7th generation Canadian. How much more native can I get?

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