COO website

Ontario First Nations Will be Fully Involved in Province’s New Cannabis Control Board Through On-Reserve Regulations and Potential Revenue Sharing

(TORONTO, September 8, 2017) This morning the Province of Ontario announced a new Cannabis Control Board which will regulate the sales of marijuana through as many as 150 stand-alone stores located in municipalities across the province, beginning July 1, 2019. Ontario First Nations will be discussing their involvement in this process, including our own laws to regulate cannabis consumption and sales in First Nation communities. There is also potential in sharing provincial sales revenues.

“Attorney General Yasir Naqvi and Finance Minister Charles Sousa briefed members of the Chiefs of Ontario Political Confederacy earlier this morning. This is a direct result of our new government to government relationship established through the 2015 Political Accord,” said Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day. “In the coming months, we will establish a bi-lateral table to work collectively on the Cannabis Control Act, which must be passed next year before regulated sales begin. Initial meetings with Ontario are proving to be respectful and focused on the real issues and challenges faced by First Nations in preparation of retail and distribution of cannabis. 

 “At the same time, there will be many issues and opportunities which need to be addressed. How are First Nation communities going to regulate the sales and consumption of cannabis? I remain optimistic that First Nations will directly benefit from any revenue generated from these ventures. While historically, Ontario First Nations have been neglected in resource revenue sharing with the Province of Ontario, this new economic industry provides the opportunity to turn a new leaf, to examine innovative revenue sharing opportunities.

“To say the least, this is an unprecedented opportunity for First Nations to be fully involved at the very beginning of an industry that has enormous potential, as well as considerable risks. Some of our communities may want to explore the potential for jointly owned cannabis operations, which will involve federal approval. Some communities may want to ban sales and consumption, much like many “dry” communities ban alcohol. Any legislation needs to have the flexibility to support First Nations communities in pursuing  development in ways that align with their own specific cultural and community values.

 “The Chiefs of Ontario will continue to provide updates and ensure that the necessary resources are provided so our communities will be directly involved during the engagement sessions and bilateral process in the months to come,” added Regional Chief Day.  “There will be a communiqué in the near future with more information about next steps.”

-30-

The Chiefs of Ontario is an advocacy forum, and a secretariat for collective decision making, action, and advocacy for the 133 First Nation communities located within the boundaries of the province of Ontario, Canada.

For more information, please contact: Bryan Hendry, Senior Advisor, Policy and Communications, 613-863-1764 or bryan.hendry@coo.org