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First Indigenous-led cannabis gathering in B.C.


October 5, 2020
By Kelsie Kilawna, The Discourse (Local Journalism Initiative)

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On Sept. 26 and 27, the Okanagan Cannabis Council hosted an event to share as much information as they can about the cannabis industry, from seed-to-sale. The event, called the Grassroots Cannabis Gathering, was on Penticton Indian Band.

“We created it to educate all of our communities,” says Cory Brewer, a member of the council and business owner. “Our communities need to be educated in the right way to get off the stigma that cannabis carries right now.”

The event was only open to 20 people in order to follow COVID-19 protocols.

“We’ll be providing a lot of information for people who are interested in growing, interested in the medicinal aspects of the plant, or distribution,” Brewer says.

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“We really want to show people the power of the plant.”

The Okanagan Cannabis Council was created this year by a group of Syilx dispensary owners in the Okanagan who felt that it was time to come together to continue to make progress in this space.

When cannabis was legalized by the federal government in October 2018, they failed to consult with First Nations. As a result, now some First Nations communities are creating their own cannabis legislation, including the Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) which passed their Cannabis Control Law in May, 2020. OKIB is now issuing licenses to operate cannabis businesses on reserve.

This is something that Brewer plans to discuss at the gathering.

“We’re going to be introducing the OKIB Cannabis Control Law and what we’ve done to everybody that shows up there,” he says.

“We see our law as sitting at a federal level, not a provincial level and it’s just a bit crazy that we’ve had to make this law because the government didn’t.”

Overall, Brewer says he hopes that, “everyone can come out and enjoy it because it’s going to be a great time and a lot of learning.”