MJ Biz Article: Indigenous cannabis entrepreneurs underrepresented in Canada, data suggests

Entrepreneurs in Indigenous communities are significantly underrepresented within Canada’s cultivation and retail marijuana industry, new data compiled by MJBizDaily suggests.

MJBizDaily research also found that the country’s largest provinces by population – Ontario and Quebec – have not reached any government-to-government deals regarding cannabis regulation with First Nations since 2018, a potential factor for their general absence from the federally legal industry.

Among the 755 unique cannabis corporations licensed by Canada’s federal government as of last year – mostly cultivators and processors – only six were located in an Indigenous community, or 0.8% of all licensees.

And among more than 3,300 provincially authorized recreational marijuana stores across the country, approximately 24 were situated on First Nations reserves at that time, or 0.7% of the retailers in Canada.

The new data gives credence to claims by some Indigenous leaders that First Nations communities in Canada have been excluded from the economic opportunities and public health benefits stemming from the legalization and regulation of recreational marijuana spelled out under Canada’s 2018 federal cannabis law.

“We talk about reconciliation, but it hasn’t happened yet. There was an opportunity with the cannabis legislation,” Darwin Douglas, CEO of All Nations told MJBizDaily.

All Nations is one of the six federally licensed producers operating on a reserve.

Douglas said Indigenous participation is so low in the cannabis industry because meaningful consultation did not take place when the legislation was rolled out.

“The opportunity was to engage Indigenous people and nations, and consult with them on the legalization process, and understand how legalization and the building of this emerging cannabis industry was going to apply to Indigenous people,” he said.

“How the legislation would apply to Indigenous people on their title lands and territories was the opportunity to develop a system that works for everybody – the people of Canada, the federal and provincial governments, and the Indigenous nations and their jurisdictions.”

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