A new cannabis shop on the Muscowpetung Saulteaux Nation, northeast of Regina, is set to open on perilous ground.
The Mino Maskihki Cannabis Dispensary opened to band members on Tuesday and is scheduled to open to the public on Wednesday morning, despite not having a licence from the provincial government.
A letter from Muscowpetung Chief Anthony Cappo was sent out to band membership in early November. It says the band has the right to open the shop as a sovereign nation based on the principles of self-governance set out in the treaties.
The provincial Justice Minister has said the province was given the right to license shops by the federal government, including on reserve – so any shops which open without a license would be considered illegal.
The band appears to be considering marijuana as more of a medicinal substance than a recreational drug.
The letter from Cappo talks about the opportunities marijuana provides to help the band membership deal with disease and trauma, as well as a path to deal with addictions.
“The purpose of this endeavour is to offer a choice and the freedom for individuals to apply a non-invasive medical treatment option focused on premium products and information,” wrote Cappo.
The band is also interested in the economic opportunities afforded by the industry, including jobs for its members and the revenue it can bring to the band.
Muscowpetung passed its own Cannabis Act on Monday night, which the band says meets and actually exceeds federal and provincial standards.
The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) is publicly supporting Muscowpetung, agreeing the band has the authority to pass its own cannabis legislation within its own boundaries.
FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron said in a news release the provincial government has no jurisdiction over this matter and cautioned that Saskatchewan will face more legal battles if it violates treaty rights.