Article by CBC News
A band councillor from a First Nation community in northwestern Ontario says he’s “disappointed” to learn that his community of Couchiching First Nation is excluded from applying for the first 25 cannabis stores in Ontario.
Ron “Magoo” Archie is a band councillor in Couchiching First Nation, a community that’s approximately four hours west of Thunder Bay.
A lottery will be drawn on Friday to decide where Ontario’s first 25 cannabis stores will be located.
He said he was planning to open a cannabis store, until he learned that communities with less than 50,000 people can not apply for a store-front in this first lottery, which means the stores in northern Ontario can only be set up in Greater Sudbury, North Bay, Sault Ste. Marie or Thunder Bay.
“We looked at the cannabis industry as a real opportunity to get in at the ground level on a major industry, ” Archie told CBC News, “and we did have plans for cultivation … [but] retail came up first so we pursued it [because] it was a little bit less capital intensive,” adding that they had already met with the Liberal government to collaborate and propose the idea.
He said initially when they first came up with the plan, they wanted to operate within the provincial government’s regulation by opening up a retail location and working with the Ontario Cannabis Store to procure the product. But that idea all went down the drain when he learned that the new rules won’t let him.
“We had to suspend our discussions with the government when the election period came up,” Archie explained. “I think the approached changed …. in the late summer.”