Council chiefs Gina Deer and Rhonda Kirby are part of a cannabis working group appointed by the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake. Deer says Canopy Growth’s proposal provides the greatest benefit with least amount of risk for the community. (Jessica Deer/CBC) While a moratorium on the production and sale of cannabis products has been in place in Kahnawake, Que., for more than a year, its council is looking into partnering with one of the largest medical marijuana companies in Canada.
The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake signed a non-binding term with Canopy Growth Corporation to explore a potential agreement to build a 50,000 square foot greenhouse with an additional 20,000 square feet of post-harvesting space in the south shore community.
"If we are able to move forward with this project, it will create incredible opportunities for local jobs, with inclusion for prospective local producers in the industry," said grand chief Joe Norton in a statement.
The moratorium is in place until the community’s own legislation to regulate the cannabis industry is enacted. According to the draft law, the greenhouse would require a Health Canada licence and licence from Kahnawake to operate.
The council said it’s committed to direct dialogue with the community before any formal agreement is made, but the announcement was disappointing to some community members.
"[The] MCK is in a clear conflict of interest by developing a law that they themselves will administer, and without community approval or consultation are designing it to meet their needs," said Jeremiah Johnson, a community member who has been advocating for more input on the law. Looking to cannabis for economic development
Council said it’s exploring the partnership for economic development purposes, to become self-sufficient from government funding. It said any revenue from the project would go toward addiction treatment services, awareness programs, and to support underfunded programs, projects and services.
"For years we have been searching for a sustainable industry that will generate income for the community, especially as a collective," said Norton.
"This is a chance to partner with the world leader in the industry – a company that has already concluded distribution and sales agreements with every province and territory across the country that has announced such agreements." The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake is just one First Nation that’s investigating the benefits of investing in legal marijuana, medical and recreational. (CBC) There are no estimates on the amount of revenue such a project would bring to the community, but the MCK said the greenhouse is expected to create around 75 full-time jobs for Kahnawa’kehró:non as well as indirect employment for the construction of the facility. Why Canopy Growth?
Council chief Gina Deer said the community has been approached over the past few years by many licensed, pre-licensed and unlicensed cannabis producers for investment in and out of Kahnawake. Canopy Growth, she said, provided the greatest benefit with least amount of risk for the community.
"They’re a leader in the industry," said Deer.
It would be the first time the company has partnered with a First Nation in Quebec.
"There’s a lot of exciting potential in working with a partner from a First Nations group. It’s specifically exciting because they happen to be in Quebec and in an exciting location," said Jordan Sinclair, vice-president of communications at Canopy Growth.
"We can offer each other different expertise and that’s always the basis of a strong partnership."
Jessica Deer is Kanien’kehá:ka from Kahnawake. She works in the Indigenous unit and is based in Montreal.
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