While lucrative tobacco shops abound in Kahnawake, selling, distributing or manufacturing cannabis on the territory remains illegal.
Kahnawake is currently drafting its own cannabis legislation and taking its time to make sure citizens’ concerns are heard, said Delaronde.
“We have to build some trust here,” he explained. “We need our own laws to make sure we have control over the situation.”
Opinion in Kahnawake on legalizing cannabis sales is split.
The council recently released results of an opinion polls that surveyed 425 people in the community, 55 per cent of whom either “agreed or strongly agreed” with allowing the legal sale of cannabis on the territory.
Kahnawake’s cannabis bill could be adopted before Christmas, Delaronde said, but committees will still need to create a series of rules and regulations to compliment the law, which will ensure the final legislation only enters into force much later.
The council is also still working out if and how the community will impose a “royalty” on cannabis sales — or to tax non-Indigenous people who come into the community to buy the product.
Delaronde says charging a royalty could ensure cannabis is not cheaper on the territory than in the rest of the province.
“If the price is lower in Kahnawake are we encouraging our young people to smoke more?” Delaronde asked.
The legal process Kahnawake is going through to legalize cannabis sales is highlighting a tension between the federal, provincial, and First Nations governments regarding who has final authority over the drug.