The province is not happy with the opening of an unlicensed cannabis store on the Muscowpetung Saulteaux First Nation.
Mino Maskihki Cannabis Dispensary opened this week with no provincial license, with Chief Anthony Cappo stating Muscowpetung had a sovereign right to pass its own marijuana legislation.
On Thursday Justice Minister Don Morgan said the store is illegal because the federal government delegated jurisdiction over cannabis regulation to the provinces.
“If somebody breaks that law, then we don’t direct what the police do, but the police, we know, are enforcing. We know SLGA is sending out letters and dealing with it,” Morgan said.
Morgan expressed disappointment with the leadership on the First Nation for going ahead with opening a dispensary without discussing it with the province ahead of time. He said he’s had no formal discussion with leaders from Muscowpetung or any other reserve in the province on the issue.
“The wrong way to work through is just by starting out by breaking the law and saying ‘now let’s sit down and talk,'” Morgan said. “The better way would be to sit down and say ‘these are things we’d like to do’ and we would say ‘of course, glad to have the discussion with you.'”
The justice minister pointed to past examples of challenges with regulating the sale of liquor and cigarettes on reserves as well as First Nations gaming, where the province has worked out protocols.
When asked if he expects to see this matter wind up in court, Morgan said he’s sure it will but he would rather that it didn’t come to that.
Morgan said he is hoping to meet with Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) Chief Bobby Cameron in the coming days to discuss how they can move forward together. Earlier this week, the FSIN issued a statement in support of Muscowpetung’s right to self-governance.
He suggested Muscowpetung could still apply to be a cannabis wholesaler or registered licensed producer, as there are no provincial retail permits to open a marijuana dispensary available at this time.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story stated that licenses for marijuana dispensaries are still available, which is not the case. Instead, licenses are still available to become a cannabis wholesaler or registered licensed producer in Saskatchewan.