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Manitoba terminates First Nations store agreement

Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries says it has terminated a retailer agreement with NAC Long Plain for a Meta Cannabis Supply store on reserve land in Winnipeg because they say the First Nation wouldn’t comply with rules laid out by the province’s Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority.

What’s legal?

The store’s licence for the 420 Madison St. location was suspended last month. “Long Plain First Nation’s failure to respond to efforts to collaborate … and the continued ongoing sale of unregulated cannabis from an unlicensed store on the First Nation’s Keeshkeemaquah reserve, prompted the agreement termination and licence cancellation today,” says the press release. 

Long Plain First Nation notified officials that provincial cannabis laws don’t apply on-reserve. “The leadership of the Long Plain First Nation has adopted the Long Plain First Nation Cannabis Law pursuant to section 35 of the Constitution Act, the First Nations Land Management Act and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” reads the statement. “The Cannabis Law is an expression of the Long Plain First Nation’s inherent right to self-determination, which includes the right to exclusively govern cannabis-related activities on-reserve.”

Cannabis Act ambiguity

Indeed, there are unlicensed stores owned and operated by First Nations on-reserve across the country. Generally, police don’t interfere with them unless the community requests it. But the laws aren’t clear when it comes to partnerships between First Nations and provincially regulated businesses. Unfortunately, attempts to collaborate so far have failed.

“In enacting the Cannabis Law,” continues the statement from Long Plain, “we are willing and prepared to work with Canada on a Nation-to-­Nation basis to ensure that our respective legal systems can co-exist and operate harmoniously.”

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