Indigenous Cannabis Trading Post

There’s a new Indigenous cannabis trading post in Stratford, Ontario. Or, as some may put it, there’s an “unlicensed” cannabis shop on the traditional lands of the Anishnabek, Haudenosaunee (Iroquois), and Ojibway/Chippewa peoples.

It’s a bit of a catch-22 for the progressive cult. As Mussolini said, “Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State.” Ergo, you can’t grow, sell, buy or even consume cannabis without Ottawa’s approval via the Cannabis Act.

But the State is the Dominion of Canada. A racist, colonial, white supremacist government that has no right to occupy stolen land and claim total control over its use. 

So which is it? Is the new “unlicensed” Indigenous cannabis shop in Stratford illegal? Or is the legality of the situation unlawful?

In other words – Is Organic Solutions justified in opening a cannabis trading post without approval from Ontario‘s cannabis distribution and regulator monopoly?

Indigenous Cannabis Trading Post

Indigenous Cannabis Trading Post
Organics Solutions in Stratford, seen on July 14, 2023. (CTV News/Jeff Pickel)

Organics Solutions isn’t the only pot shop in Stratford, but it’s the only one that operates without a provincial license.

The owners are Indigenous and say it’s their right to operate an Indigenous trading post.

“The City of Stratford now acknowledges now that they’re on traditional land,” said co-owner Kirk Marquette to the local media. “So under the Charter of Rights section, 25 and 35 – that allows an Indigenous person to open up a trading post.”

Technically, the Upper Canada Treaties cover the city of Stratford. Representatives of the British Crown and several Indigenous nations made these agreements between 1781 and 1850.

Stratford, in particular, is covered by the Robinson-Huron Treaty. The primary purpose was to establish land rights and facilitating European settlement in the area. The goal was to formalize property ownership and peaceful co-existence.

So while the “unlicensed” cannabis stores elsewhere may get a free pass (where they are no treaties), the trading posts of Southern Ontario may not fair better.

Just because spineless politicians start their meetings with Indigenous land acknowledgements doesn’t mean that these same politicians will adhere to their ideology when push comes to shove.

Land acknowledgments are an attempt to have their cake and eat it too. 

Its proponents recognize that Canadians live on land that – for the most part – wasn’t appropriated peacefully or with consent from the original landowners.

But they fail to take into account the consequences of this creed. Namely, Indigenous trading posts selling “unlicensed” cannabis.

Will Police Raid the Indigenous Cannabis Trading Post?

Will Police Raid the Indigenous Cannabis Trading Post?

According to the owners of Organics Solutions, all their products are Indigenous-grown and lab-tested before the sale. One would imagine the owners like to partake in the herb itself. 

Where’s the incentive to poison themselves or their customers? Especially those using cannabis for medicinal purposes.

As one of the owners told CTV, “Our pricing is by far better than the OSC’s [Ontario Cannabis Store]. Our product – from all my customers who come in and out – they all say it’s so much better.”

Customers may be happy, but competing cannabis stores are not. They fear the Indigenous trading post has an unfair advantage and will undercut them.

Meanwhile, police have visited Organic Solutions but have not taken any action. In a statement, the Stratford police said they “recognize the complexities of the issue and want to ensure that all lawful rights are taken into consideration.”

In other words – pass this hot potato up the chain of command. Raiding an Indigenous trading post? Are you serious? Those decisions are beyond the pay grade of local police.

Sections 25 & 35 of the Canadian Constitution Act

Indigenous Cannabis Trading Post

Like other Indigenous cannabis trading post owners, Organic Solutions refers to Sections 25 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

Section 35 addresses issues such as land, hunting and fishing rights, and self-government rights. 

Section 35 doesn’t explicitly mention trading posts. But as trade and economic activities have been essential aspects of Indigenous cultures (really, all cultures), one could interpret Section 35 in this way.

Section 25 doesn’t explicitly mention trading posts, either. But it reinforces Charter rights, which could be related to trade and economic activities.

An Indigenous trading post selling “unlicensed” cannabis may or may not get the boot. A lot depends on how authorities decide to address the issue.

Of course, depending on your interpretation, the Charter doesn’t bind Indigenous governments at all.  

Section 35 includes a right to self-government, and section 25 says the Charter does not limit Indigenous rightsTherefore, section 25 should guarantee self-government not limited by the Charter.

Indigenous band councils, for example, don’t derive their authority from the Indian Act or the Charter but from tradition. 

A recent Yukon Court of Appeal ruling supports this view. If accepted, it has the potential to create Charter-free zones on Indigenous reserves and other lands.

And if the progressive cult is adamant that all of Canada is essentially occupied Indigenous land, then by proxy, the Charter is as useful as the paper it’s printed on. 

And that the British Crown, now represented by the Canadian government, has no legitimate claims to authority. Especially regarding the cultivation of cannabis.