Canada’s Saskatchewan government announced Tuesday that it has introduced legislation aimed at giving regulatory authority to cannabis businesses in First Nations jurisdictions in the province. The first of two bills, the Summary Offenses Procedures Amendment Act of 2022 (SOPA), provides a legal framework that First Nations communities can use to enforce protected land laws and regulations. First country to license and regulate the distribution and retail sale of cannabis.
“The Government of Saskatchewan is proud to take this important step as part of our ongoing work with Muscoday and the Whitecap Dakota Indigenous People,” said Minister of Justice and Attorney General Bronwyn Ayre. said in a statement from the state government. “These amendments will enable these and other Indigenous communities to commit traffic violations and other violations in the future using simplified, informal criminal procedures rather than the long-form process under federal penal code.” We will be able to issue tickets and fines issued against violations of state law.”
The second bill, the Cannabis Regulation (Saskatchewan) Amendment Act of 2022, establishes a state legal framework for indigenous peoples to permit and regulate the distribution and retail sale of cannabis on indigenous reserves. Under the law, indigenous peoples will follow existing state and federal laws for establishing local governments to govern cannabis businesses. Retailers that comply with regulations not yet written can buy from federally regulated cannabis growers.
Legislation Follows Memorandum
The new legislative changes follow a memorandum of understanding signed in October 2019 by the Government of Saskatchewan, the Mascodei First Nation and the Whitecap Dakota First Nation addressing long-standing questions of sovereignty and enforcement of First Nation law.
Chief of Whitecap Dakota First Nation, Darcy Bear, said, “Indigenous peoples assert jurisdiction and communities by making laws based on the Indian Act, the Land Code, and other federal laws. However, it has been difficult to enforce these laws in the courts. It will give us access to prosecution and enforcement tools that will strengthen our legal standing alongside federal and state law.”
The Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority is responsible for administering and enforcing cannabis regulations in the state. Lori Carr, the minister who heads the SLGA, said the state is in favor of giving indigenous peoples autonomy over cannabis regulatory control and enforcement on protected lands.
“Our government supports the exercise of power by indigenous peoples over cannabis predistribution and retail through the SLGA legal framework,” Carr said. “This change will further facilitate settlement by allowing Indigenous-owned businesses to fully participate in the economic opportunities presented by the retail cannabis industry.”
“One of the biggest advantages they have is that they have access to the products from the Canadian government, so they can be assured that the products they get are safe for consumers.” car added.
Zagime Anishinabeck First Nation has operated retail cannabis outlets near Regina, Saskatchewan since 2019 and oversees businesses through its own policies and regulatory ordinances. Chief Lynn Accors said the Sovereign Indigenous Peoples are self-governing communities, so no new legislation from the state government is needed.
“We have our own laws and bylaws.” Acoose told reporters “So far, the framework we have put in place is working well,” he said on Tuesday.
Acoose said Zagime Anisinabec does not support regulations that would give Saskatchewan authorities authority over First Nation cannabis companies because First Nation regulations are already in place.
“We are not interested in making any kind of agreement with the states regarding the suspension of state law of any kind,” Acoose said, adding that complying with federal law is another matter.