First Nations Should Explore Cashing in on Legal Cannabis

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When people hear of First Nation communities, it is usually about a crisis, casinos or mind-blowing poverty conveniently hidden away in one of the world’s richest continents. Or it is about on-reserve tobacco production, ranging from criticism of the supposed “free ride” for Indigenous people all the way to claims of organized crime and fraudulent production and sales. There is usually little painted positively, even though the success of businesses in some First Nation communities are truly impressive.

The emerging legalization of marijuana is an opportunity for continued and new business success in First Nation communities. As different parts of the U.S. have started legalizing the sale of marijuana (and Canada is on its way), cannabis capitalists are flocking to invest in dispensaries and other marijuana-related projects.

The marijuana industry is projected to reach $15.2B by 2020. It is attracting high profile investors like Peter Thiel, big corporations and musicians. You know there is money to be made and this is serious business when even Shopper’s Drug Mart has applied to sell you marijuana.

This means that First Nation communities that do consider marijuana production and/or sales may face some of the challenges and accusations they have already experienced through production and sales of tobacco.

A quote by Dave Bryans of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) notes a new study that shows an increase in smokers’ use of contraband tobacco in Ontario, stating that 32.8 per cent of the cigarette butts collected in the study were from illegal sources — an increase of eight per cent from 2015.

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