December 22, 2023 By Local Journalism Initiative
By Eve Cable, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
THE EASTERN DOOR
The community is edging closer to the first cannabis dispensaries opening, with the Kahnawake Cannabis Control Board (KCCB) announcing they will be accepting completed pre-eligibility forms for dispensary licences starting next month.
“We’ve discussed that we’ll meet as the applications come in, so it could be on a weekly basis, depending on the number of applications we get,” said Tara Jacobs, chairperson of the KCCB. “We’ll go through them one by one as a board.”
Forms are available on the KCCB website, cannabisboard.org, and should be filled out to ensure prospective license holders meet the required criteria to operate a dispensary. Eligibility includes being over the age of 21 and being on the Kahnawake Kanien’keha:ka Registry (KKR), and applicants will also have to provide a proposed location that respects the guidelines set out in the regulations of being more than 300 metres away from schools, daycares, and similar establishments.
“(The location) doesn’t have to be owned by them. They’re able to present it as they’ll be renting the locale,” said the Cannabis Control Office (CCO) operations manager Matthew Ferrante. “But the proposed location should be where the dispensary would eventually open.”
Work for cannabis sale in Kahnawake to begin has been in production since 2018, when the Cannabis Control Law was partially enacted. Various delays, including those caused by the pandemic, have contributed to slow movement on the file. Jacobs is pleased progress is finally being made.
“It’s a relief because the community has waited a long time for this, I’m sure we have frustrated people, and that’s understandable,” she said. “But we’re going to get the ball rolling, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes. I just thank the community for being patient with us, and with just a little bit more patience, in the near future we will have dispensaries open in our community.”
The pre-eligibility forms are solely to ensure candidates meet the minimum expected criteria, and are not indicative of the likelihood of an individual being granted one of the three dispensary licences that will eventually be given out in the community. There are certain factors that may be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, such as prior criminal records.
“I wouldn’t discourage anyone who has a criminal record to apply, it’s up to the board’s discretion,” said Ferrante. “I had a couple of community members reach out and say that they have a criminal record for tobacco, and tobacco in the community is fully legal but they’ve been caught bringing it to another reserve, say in Ontario. Obviously, other crimes such as fraudulent activity and selling of illegal substances will be looked at more strictly.”
The KCCB has also reached quorum, after a number of reshuffles within its membership. Most recent was Rhonda Kirby’s resignation from the board in October. This week, it was announced that Darlene Alfred would be joining the board as the third member for a three-year term, joining Jacobs and David Diabo.
“Darlene brings a lot of knowledge to the table,” Jacobs said. “She’s engaged in community events and community politics, and I believe she’s going to help us out a great deal.”
Previously, the board had a quorum with two members and was able to make decisions concerning cannabis legislation, but would have been in a bind if issues such as conflicts of interest arose. With three members, one will be able to recuse themself should a conflict of interest with potential applicants arise, a situation the board acknowledges could happen.
“If there’s a conflict of interest, for example if I were to have a family member apply, I’d step aside, and Darlene and David would work on that, which is why we really need three,” Jacobs said. “It’d be their decision.”Jacobs added that if a situation arose where two members of the three-person board had a conflict of interest with an applicant, the process would be looked at to ensure the applicant could be evaluated fairly.
The applications will be accepted from Monday, January 8, to Friday, February 9, at 4 p.m. and can be submitted in person at MCK’s Client-Based Services (CBS) reception in a sealed envelope to the attention of the KCCB and Ferrante.
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