The Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples
Delay cannabis legalization to ensure adequate Indigenous consultations
May 1, 2018
Ottawa – Implementation of Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, should be delayed by as much as a year because the federal government has not adequately consulted with Indigenous peoples, the Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples said Tuesday.
The committee recommends that the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology amend the bill to allow time for First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities to negotiate with the federal government about appropriate tax collection on revenue generated by cannabis produced on First Nations land and to produce culturally specific and linguistically appropriate education materials about cannabis.
The government should also substantially increase funding for mental health and addictions programs that serve Indigenous people and communities, the committee said.
Indigenous peoples have the inherent right of self-determination, including the appropriate law-making authority to make meaningful decisions that affect the lives of their people and communities, including regulating cannabis.
The committee was authorized to study Bill C-45 as it relates to the Indigenous peoples of Canada. A wide range of witnesses testified about the lack of proper consultations, the need for culturally specific mental health and addictions services and the desire of Indigenous communities to fully participate in the economic opportunities that the legalization of cannabis provides.
With regard to the latter, the committee recommends amending the bill to prescribe that the federal health minister reserve at least 20% of cannabis production licences for producers on lands under the jurisdiction or ownership of Indigenous governments.
The committee also makes eight policy recommendations to the federal government and requests immediate action and a government response without delay.
- The Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples heard from a diverse group of 23 witnesses over five meetings.
- The committee’s report will be reviewed by the Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology during its study of the Bill C-45.
- The Senate committees on National Security and Defence, Foreign Affairs and International Trade, and Legal and Constitutional Affairs have also studied aspects of the bill.
“Indigenous peoples are entitled to a say in how the government implements the legalization of cannabis. They have expressed real concerns to us — the potential for increased harmful effects on indigenous communities on the one hand, and the possibility of losing out on economic opportunities on the other. We must address these issues.”
- Senator Lillian Eva Dyck, Chair of the committee.
“The government claims consultation with Indigenous groups was adequate — the people we heard from said otherwise. Representatives of Indigenous communities from across the country told us they are not ready. We listened. The government should too.”
- Senator Scott Tannas, Deputy Chair of the committee.
- Read the committee’s Report on the Subject Matter of Bill C-45
- Visit the Senate’s webpage about Bill C-45
- Follow the committee on social media using the hashtag #APPA.
- Sign up for the Senate’s eNewsletter.
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