Article by Willow Fiddler, APTN News
The owners of a prohibited cannabis dispensary in Fort William First Nation say they’re prepared to re-open if police shut them down.
Steve Lalonde told APTN News he’s filed a lawsuit against the First Nation.
“We are in disagreement, we think it’s a big fail and our members want to be part of this exciting new industry,” Lalonde said.
Lalonde and his business partner, Tim Ward, both members of Fort William First Nation, opened Bubba’s Bud and Smoke to customers this week.
“Right now we’re selling flower and we’re hoping to bring in edibles and other various cannabis products. I think we’re just trying to give our members and customers a wide variety of cannabis products and give them access,” Lalonde said.
Several people waited outside for hours the day it opened, including Beverly Goodwin who said it’s about time a dispensary opened up.
“I’ve been excited, I’ve been waiting for this for so long. I can’t wait until its open now and get some samples and try different ones out,” she said.
Goodwin has been a recreational cannabis user for years but says there are other benefits to it.
“I think health-wise, it’s better for me as well – nervous, anxiety,” she said.
“I think it’s helped me with my other addictions and helped with my drinking and that was years ago.”
Jadzia Ogima Gilbeau said she doesn’t smoke the drug but wants to support her parents.
“It helps my mom with her anxiety and it helps my dad because I know he’s always like nervous and it settles him down a lot and I know like my friends who have depression and anxiety and it’s helped them significantly,” she said.
The Anishinabek Police Service said they are investigating the operation with the province’s cannabis enforcement team and that charges are possible.
“The Fort William First Nation doesn’t currently have their own by-laws related to the operation of dispensaries on the territory,” Insp. Derek Johnson said.
“However, we still comply with the federal cannabis act as well as the provincial cannabis control act so there’s a number of offences in both of those acts that relate to the purchase and sale, distribution of cannabis and cannabis derivatives.”
There’s also regulations for purchasing cannabis that Johnson said people show know.
“Each consumer should complete their own due diligence when purchasing recreational cannabis for their personal consumption,” he said. “Initially the only available place to purchase recreational cannabis was the online Ontario Cannabis Store.”
So far, the province has licensed 25 retail stores – but only two in northern Ontario and both of them are in Sudbury – more than 1,000 kilometers away from Fort William.