HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html First Nations Want Part Of The Pot
Pubdate: Fri, 09 Mar 2018
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2018 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Mark Bonokoski
Page: 9


Same tribe, different mindsets.

On Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory on the shores of Lake Ontario, dead
centre between Toronto and Montreal, there are more than 20 pot
dispensaries and at least 30 smoke shacks selling cheap cigarettes.

The population of Tyendinaga is 2,124.

Do the math.

At the Six Nations Mohawk Territory, however, the largest First
Nations reserve in Canada with a population of 12,000-plus living on
the reserve, there is a huge sign on the main highway indicating zero
tolerance to illicit drugs.

Therefore, not a single pot dispensary exists on Six Nations, but
upwards of 80 smoke shacks compete for business.

That will undoubtedly change when pot becomes legal, but a leader on
First Nations finances is not prepared to roll the dice and hope the
Trudeau Liberals will give them a fair share of the pot jackpot.

Manny Jules, chief commissioner of the First Nations Tax Commission,
wants the Liberals to amend Bill C-45 to give First Nations
governments unfettered taxing authority over cannabis grown and sold
on their reserves.

If the Liberals suddenly got smart, they would see this as opportunity
knocking, and the chance to exert some financial control on lands
where revenuers and police, both the RCMP and Ontario provincial
forces, dare not tread over fear of provoking another Oka, Ipperwash
or Caledonia.

They should grant First Nations their wish, but with firm

Among Canada's 600-plus reserves, for example, a full third have
medium to high-risk drinking water situations.

This could be rectified if some of the taxes collected from cannabis
sales, on reserve and off, was dedicated to speeding up the building
and upgrading of water treatment centres.

A constant complaint among First Nations is the appalling housing
conditions on so many reserves, the paucity of schools and the lack of
professional health-care personnel and facilities.

A dedicated portion of the pot tax for First Nations could help
address many of these ills.

The feds, and the province of Ontario - the epicentre for the
manufacturing of Native cigarettes - have already lost control of the
contraband cigarette market.

The moment a Native-produced cigarette leaves a reserve, for example,
it immediately becomes illegal.

But ordinary smokers and contraband traffickers are flocking to these
reserves in such numbers that experts say the tax revenues lost each
year are upwards of a billion dollars.

Price point is the key. A carton of 200 legal cigarettes purchased at
a convenience store is upwards of $115 because 70% of the retail cost
is federal and provincial sin taxes.

A baggie of 200 loosely-packed smokes, meanwhile, free of all
taxation, sells on reserves for as little as $10.

The sin is the criminality of having them, and it is only going to get
worse when the plain-packaging of cigarettes becomes law, and no one
can easily tell which product is legal.

The Trudeau Liberals have already cut a deal with the provinces on how
the excise duty on legal marijuana will be divvied up. It will be a
75-25 split, with the province getting the lion's share because of the
costs of setting up the infrastructure and the costs of policing once
pot becomes legal.

Manny Jules, the First Nations chief taxman, says First Nations will
have to incur similar costs without the quid pro quo of financial gain.

He even cited contraband tobacco as an example of what can go wrong
without proper oversight and an "orderly approach."

"Where there is no law, you're going to have problems," Jules told the
CBC, stating the pot legislation as it stands is already a "dog's
breakfast" because his people were never consulted.

Cigarettes and marijuana.

Different smoke, same cockup-in-waiting.
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MAP posted-by: Matt