Racial equity is a key concern as Canada moves closer to national cannabis legalization. In particular, progressive segments within the legalization movement want to be sure that the incoming legal industry isn’t dominated by white businesspeople. Now, a handful of cannabis companies are working with indigenous communities. But will this ensure racial equity? Or is this a bid by large, non-indigenous companies to seize local markets?
Companies Working With Indigenous Communities
With legalization coming up on the horizon, things are on the move. National lawmakers are hammering out final details. Meanwhile, provinces are also figuring out their own specific rules.
At the same time, business people are also making their moves. For some businesses, this means partnering and working with indigenous communities.
As reported by Financial Post, many cannabis businesses are beginning to team up with indigenous companies. The goal of these partnerships is to grow the cannabis industry within native reserves and communities.
Companies including Avana Canada, MediPharm Labs, and Native Roots have reportedly already started forming relationships with indigenous companies and communities.
For these businesses, there are a few potential benefits to working closely with indigenous businesses. In particular, many reserves will likely have the ability to set their own rules for cannabis. And that could open up some big business opportunities.
In provinces where weed will be heavily restricted, or where private dispensaries will not be allowed, reserves could be the only place to open private weed shops. This includes provinces like Ontario, Nova Scotia, and Quebec.
Will Indigenous Business Owners Benefit?
All of this raises some big questions. Most importantly, it’s unclear how much indigenous people themselves will benefit.
There is always the potential that larger national companies could try to move in and funnel cannabis revenues out of reserves. But, many indigenous reserves and other communities are working to ensure that cannabis money stays in the community with indigenous business owners and workers.
For example, there are reportedly 14 indigenous-owned businesses in line for a license. If these businesses are granted owners, it could be a big step toward ensuring that indigenous people and communities benefit directly from legal weed, rather than turning reserves into a money-making scheme for non-indigenous businesspeople.
Why Are Cannabis Companies Working With Indigenous Communities?
There are still a lot of questions about legal weed in Canada. For starters, there is still no set date on which legalization will begin. At the moment, federal lawmakers are still finalizing details with the hope that the transition will be made by October 17th.
On top of that, provinces are finalizing their own rules and by-laws. Some experts predict it could take another couple months after federal legalization for provinces to roll out local laws.
There are also big questions about who will benefit economically from legal marijuana. As cannabis companies are working with indigenous communities, it’s unclear how much this will actually benefit indigenous people themselves.
At this point, the most important thing is ensuring that the money generated from legal weed—whether from growing, producing, selling, or anything else—stays with indigenous folks and in indigenous communities.