Article by Joshua Ostroff, Vice News
Eighty years ago, the police chief on the Caughnawaga reserve across the St. Lawrence river from Montreal spent weeks supervising the picking, carting, and burning of 3,500 pounds of pot under order of the Department of Indian Affairs. “The leaves and seeds of the marijuana plant contain a drug police fear more than any other narcotic,” ominously warned the Montreal Gazette on September 29, 1938, adding cops considered it a “greater menace” than opium and cocaine because it “often brings on insanity.”
This reefer believed to cause madness had reportedly been growing wild across the land now known as Kahnawake Mohawk Territory for “as long as residents can remember,” the Gazette wrote.
Fast forward to September 21, 2018—and a hundred klicks downriver to Cornwall Island in Akwesasne Mohawk Territory—and former police chief Lewis Mitchell was getting a far more preferable directive from the feds. After a four-year application process, his company Seven Leaf, had finally been given the go-ahead to cultivate cannabis. And Mitchell became president of Canada’s first Indigenous owned-and-operated licensed producer (LP).
“We’re pretty proud of that,” Mitchell told VICE. “To be the first is huge–and we’re looking to inspire not only our own community members, but hopefully other First Nation communities.”