The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs urges Province of Manitoba to consult with First Nations on cannabis framework

Photo of cannabis plant

October 16, 2018

Treaty One Territory, Manitoba



Treaty One Territory, MB – The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) recognizes that cannabis becomes legal tomorrow in Manitoba. The AMC has been working to prepare for this milestone for some time.

“We have informed the Province of Manitoba several times that they must consult with First Nations. The province does not have the jurisdiction to unilaterally develop a provincial cannabis strategy,” said Grand Chief Arlen Dumas. “We have tried to work with the province over the past year to prepare for the legalization of cannabis in our province. Unfortunately they are not honouring their duty to consult and accommodate First Nations; the province still has not agreed to work with us on this issue.”

The AMC met with provincial representatives in November 2017, informing them that the AMC was willing to act as a facilitator in developing a cannabis strategy that respects Treaty rights. The AMC met again with the province in July 2018, reminding them that engaging with First Nations on a cannabis strategy is part of their duty to consult and accommodate.

“The province is planning to charge a ‘social responsibility tax’ to any First Nation that receives a license to sell cannabis on or off reserve,” states Grand Chief Dumas. “We have heard loud and clear that Chiefs in Manitoba are against this tax. The AMC has asked for a meeting with Premier Brian Pallister on this matter. Even though cannabis becomes legal tomorrow, we are still waiting for our meeting with the Premier.”

Representatives from the Province of Manitoba presented to the AMC’s 30th Annual General Assembly in July 2018, explaining that it is implementing a six per cent social responsibility “fee” of annual revenues from the sale of recreational cannabis, effective next year.

“We urge Manitoba to work with First Nations in Manitoba,” stated Grand Chief Dumas. “The lack of First Nation inclusion in the cannabis tax framework infringes on our Treaty rights. The province cannot unilaterally tax, levy, or charge a fee to First Nations in lieu of granting them a license to operate a retail store on reserve. It is up to our sovereign First Nations in Manitoba to determine whether they would like to use revenue from cannabis sales for programs that would help our own Nations, such as healing programs and centres; campaigns to educate young people about the dangers of the drug; bolstering recreation opportunities for children and youth; and so forth.”

The AMC has repeatedly stated it is willing to work with the government in good faith regarding a cannabis strategy. The AMC once again calls on the province to meaningfully consult and engage with First Nations on this issue.