Indigenous leaders in BC call on the government to change cannabis laws

Indigenous leaders in BC are urging government officials to change the legal framework involving the cannabis industry within its communities.

The call comes on April 20, a day where thousands of British Columbians participate in a day of celebration and protest surrounding all things cannabis.

The First Nations Leadership Council (FNLC) in BC is calling on the province and federal government to change cannabis legalities to align with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and to support First Nations’ full participation in the cannabis economy .

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Leaders said Indigenous businesses are unfairly subjected to excessive taxation and onerous regulations.

“First Nations have inherent rights and jurisdiction to govern the cultivation, processing, sale, and consumption of cannabis in their territories,” said First Nations Leadership Council staff in a release.

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“Despite persistent advocacy, First Nations’ distinct rights and unique needs were ignored by colonial governments during the legalization of cannabis.

“Five years later, Canada’s legislative framework for cannabis still does not provide appropriate avenues for coordination between jurisdictions or appropriate fiscal relationships that reflect the recognition of First Nations’ jurisdiction over cannabis.”

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The council said while legalization has made cannabis more accessible for some, it has created barriers for Indigenous people to access the benefits of the law changes.

FNLC said amendments to the Cannabis Act are needed, especially involving collaboration between the province and First Nations.

The FNLC is composed of the political executives of the BC Assembly of First Nations, the First Nations Summit, and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.

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