BC inks cannabis agreements with Indigenous groups

Published on December 22, 2021 by Simon Gerard

Photo: Contributed
Cowichan Tribes co-owns Costa Canna licensed cannabis retail stores.

The BC government has finalized a cannabis agreement with Cowichan Tribes and entered into a separate deal with Snuneymuxw First Nation.

This week’s announcement signals movement toward First Nations groups being able to establish themselves in the legal cannabis framework. The agreements fall under Section 119 of the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act, which authorizes the province to enter into cannabis agreements with First Nations groups, with some flexibility to the existing framework. 

Cowichan Tribes finalize cannabis agreement, delivery and farm-gate sales to follow

Last December, the BC Government and Cowichan Tribes entered a temporary one-year agreement that allowed their existing licensed retail cannabis operations to continue, along with licensed cannabis production. Now a formal, long-term agreement has been reached. Besides continued support of the Cowichan Tribes’ existing cannabis activities, the province will help develop programs for direct delivery and farm-gate sales in 2022. 

“Cowichan Tribes has been in negotiations with the province for the past two years to reach an agreement that will support new economic development opportunities and advance our interests in jurisdiction and right to self-determination,” says Squtxulenuhw, Chief William (Chip) Seymour, Cowichan Tribes.

“This agreement is a positive move forward and reflects the commitment of both our Nation and the province to continue working government to government to advance our respective priorities and objectives in the cannabis sector. Further discussions are needed, but we are very positive we will achieve our collective goals.”

It follows a finalized agreement with the Williams Lake First Nation, which led to what will be the first “Farm-Gate” cannabis facility in BC.

Snuneymuxw First Nation enters cannabis agreement, new store opening

Announced along with the Cowichan Tribes agreement on Dec. 21, 2021, the Snuneymuxw First Nation entered an agreement with the BC government. This allows the Snuneymuxw to open cannabis retail stores across the province, with the first set to open in January 2022. Development of direct delivery and farm-gate sale programs are also expected in 2022.

“The Section 119 agreement is significant for Snuneymuxw,” said Chief Mike Wyse, Snuneymuxw First Nation. “The Section 119 agreement creates career opportunities for our people, income for our government and, most importantly, an opportunity to further advance economic reconciliation and develop our economy as a Nation.”