Pubdate: Wed, 20 Sep 2017
Source: Northumberland Today (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Sun Media
Author: Valerie MacDonald


ALDERVILLE - Alderville First Nation's Rob Stevenson had just opened
his marijuanadispensary, Medicine Wheel Natural Healing, on County
Road 45 in Roseneath when the provincial government announced its
plans to close dispensaries in Ontario and set up 150 government-run
stores to sell cannabis.

This is to happen within the next year.

Stevenson, a member of the Anishinaabe of the Bear Clan who lives in
Alderville First Nation, said that the Ontario government doesn't have
that right when dealing with Indigenous people.

"It is not my position to tell the Canadian or Ontario government how
to run the cannabis industry in their own jurisdictions. That is a
matter for those governments and their people to determine through
their own systems," Stevenson said.

"However, Indigenous people, especially those living on reserves,
operate in a different jurisdiction than the province. Our rights are
protected and enshrined in the Canadian constitution, the United
Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, and ultimately
by our own systems of governance and decision-making which vary
between Indigenous communities and nations.

"The bottom line is that the Province of Ontario has no jurisdiction
on Native lands, and thus no right to act against the Indigenous
cannabis dispensaries on our territories. Cannabis is a healing plant
that is not dangerous to humans and one that Indigenous people embrace
as an alternative to the drugs pushed by big pharm. "

Many of the hundreds of people who came in to check out Medicine Wheel
Natural Healing at its official opening late last month were there to
ask questions about various strains of, and types of, marijuana
products, as well as their health benefits and value as pain relievers.

"To put an end to colonization and to enable true reconciliation, we
as Indigenous peoples must decide through our own decisionmaking
structures what is in our own best interests and how we will fulfill
our responsibilities," Stevenson said. "We have a right to participate
in the cannabis industry on our own lands like any other people, and
we intend to exercise those rights to provide for ourselves and to
help others. "If Canada or the province has an issue with that, then
this is something they need to peacefully and respectfully raise and
discuss with our political leadership."

Stevenson stressed that, to date, both the Ontario government and the
federal government have had "zero consultation with Indigenous people
as they have introduced their cannabis legislation.

"It's 2017, and governments should know better. They have not
consulted with our leadership, our people, or our businesses and
entrepreneurs who are leading the indigenous cannabis industry," he
said. "They should not think that they can unilaterally impose their
system on us. Times have changed, and as Indigenous people we are
going to run this industry on our own terms and for the benefit of our
people and the patients we serve."
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