Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day.

TORONTO, ON (April 13, 2017)–Ontario Regional Chief Isadore says that First Nations must have the opportunity to consult and participate fully from the new cannabis legislation announced today.

“First Nations leadership will focus on the priorities of this new legislation as it pertains to the jurisdiction within the health, social, justice and economy sectors of our communities and how it will impact our families. The health and social well being must be the first priority for us,” said Ontario Regional Chief Day.

“What does the federal legislation legalizing marijuana mean from the perspective and from priorities of a legal and jurisdictional lens of First Nations in the Ontario region? Failing to address this legislation based on effective consultation and failing to establish decisions based on First Nation consent, will see the marijuana legislation struggle and potentially falter.”

At the Assembly of First Nations annual meeting in December 2016, chiefs unanimously supported a resolution which directs the organization to push Ottawa for “priorities and incentives to ensure that First Nations are given the opportunity to participate and benefit fully from the development of this new and emerging sector.”

Last year, Ontario established a cannabis legalization secretariat, part of an effort to explore various options the federal legislation could present to prevent having to start from scratch once the bill is unveiled.

“The level of discussion that has occurred so far on the legalization of marijuana with First Nations in Ontario has been slim to none,” said Regional Chief Day. “This is counterproductive in building a foundation to start this dialogue with Canada. There must be immediate bilateral dialogue that is amendable to First Nations in Ontario.”

According to reports, the goal is to make legalization a reality across the country before July 1, 2018.

“As the Assembly of First Nations Health portfolio holder, my first concern will be health impacts and social implications. As the Ontario Regional Chief, my focus on today’s legislation will be ‘what does the federal legislation legalizing marijuana mean from the perspective and from priorities of a legal and jurisdictional lens of First Nations in the Ontario Region? Interested First Nations must have the opportunity for to participate in this new economic stream by harvesting cannabis in secure facilities, through ridged health regulations for sale to mainstream Canada and export.”

“Chiefs from across the region will have their say on this we will ensure we coordinate on fulsome discussion and a targeted dialogue. Chiefs and their First Nation leadership will set the direction to effectively review and decide on active measures to address this legislation,” concluded Regional Chief.