UNDERSTANDING A PORTION OF THE BLACK MARKET
Updated: Jan 28, 2019
Following up on my last post (Belleville opted in; yay!), I would like to outline some important facts about cannabis sales on Canadian Indigenous reserves and the legality of these sales.
To do this, I am going to put you through a scenario involving purchasing cannabis, if you're up for it! There will be a few what ifs throughout the scenario, so bear with me.
You (19+ years old) live in Prince Edward county, you hear about the stores popping up on the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, and you consider going to check it out with a few of your co-workers that seem like they might be interested. Because, you know, there's still kind of a stigma and even if I'm sure we all consume cannabis, we just don't actually talk about it, you think to yourself.
One Saturday you end up going by yourself to scope things out. You enter a friendly-looking shop and are surprised to see they even have a bright, shiny sign advertising edibles (but, edibles still aren't legal?). You go in only to realize that the store is cash-only and you contemplate for about 10 minutes whether or not you want to use their ATM. To be completely honest, you aren't as worried about the ridiculous $3.00 service charge as you are about whatever cannabis-derived name is going to come up on your debit card statement (again, the stigma...). Anyways, you purchase a small pre-rolled product (let's say it fully conforms to the labeling requirements of the Cannabis Act) and place it in the trunk of your car. You find a secluded forest where there are no signs indicating you cannot consume tobacco products, and you enjoy your purchase. You then stay in the forest for however long it takes you to be completely sober before returning home in PEC. All. Was. Legal. Although I am not suggesting you walk the grey line of the market, I feel it necessary to understand the entire market and hope that scenario helped explain a portion of the local black market; or at least piqued your curiosity. Now, if you were to have taken your purchase home, that is where you would have created a problem. Why? Because cannabis sales on Ontario Indigenous Territories are all black-market sales*. That being said, these territories are governed by their respective band councils and therefore subject to their governance directly. This means that sales within the reserve, that remain on the reserve are legal as long as their governing leaders allow it.
What remains a little up in the air is the opposite scenario. Are legal cannabis purchases from the Ontario Cannabis Store "allowed" on the reserve? Although this might seem to be an easy yes, considering some illicit dispensaries bring cannabis in from legal Canadian sources, this is not proving to be the case in practice. Recently, the northern Ontario Indigenous community of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug's leaders have banned deliveries from the Ontario Cannabis Store from entering their community. This community, however, for the past couple of years, has slowly grown as another hub for black-market cannabis sales. Surely, other territories in similar situations will follow suit.
While it is not my place to say whether any community should conform to the Cannabis Act, it is my mission to educate those that are curious about getting started with licensing. My ultimate goal is protecting our youth, and ultimately, I believe this can only be done through regulating the industry.
The Feminist of Cannabis
*To my knowledge, provided none have received licences under the Cannabis Act.