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A Saskatchewan First Nation Is Fighting To Keep Marijuana Dispensary Opened Without Provincial Approval

The Muscowpetung Saulteaux Nation believes they have the right to operate a cannabis retail shop on their reserve regardless of provincial licensure.

Last week the Mino Maskihki Cannabis Dispensary was opened in the Muscowpetung Saulteaux Nation. The nation had moved to set up their cannabis dispensary without approval of the government of Saskatchewan, something the province isn't too pleased about. However, Muscowpetung Chief Anthony Cappo says it's well within the nation's sovereign rights to set up their own pot shop, calling the move an important step for patients on the reserve.

"The purpose of this endeavor is to offer a choice and the freedom for individuals to apply a non-invasive medical treatment option focused on premium products and information," wrote Cappo to band members in a letter acquired by CJME.

Despite Cappo's claims to self-governance, Saskatchewan Justice Minister Don Morgan has called the shop illegal and is disappointed that Muscowpetung didn't consult with the province beforehand.

"The wrong way to work through is just by starting out by breaking the law and saying 'now let's sit down and talk,'" Morgan said. "The better way would be to sit down and say 'these are things we'd like to do' and we would say 'of course, glad to have the discussion with you.'"

Muscowpetung's decision is being supported by the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN). Morgan says he hopes to meet with FSIN in the coming week to discuss how Muscowpetung and the province can move forward together on this, but he's prepared to go to court over the issue if they can't come to an agreement.

Even if the Muscowpetung First Nation did want to go through the official channels they would not likely be granted a license to open up a shop on the reserve. That's because the province has already met their predetermined limits for registered retailers. Morgan suggested the Nation could apply to become a cannabis wholesaler or registered licensed producer—though neither of those options would give people on the reserve direct access to legal cannabis.


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