White Bear First Nations hoping for marijuana dispensary
It’s only an idea for now, but the White Bear First Nations hopes it could soon be the home of an on-reserve marijuana dispensary.
“We want to be proactive, we want to create jobs,” said Nathan Pasap, chief of White Bear First Nations. “We want to basically take it on as another way of being self-sustaining.”
Earlier this month, the provincial government released a list of cities, towns and reserves that would be eligible for dispensaries when recreational marijuana is legalized later this year. That list didn’t include White Bear.
The First Nation is located north of Carlyle. The closest dispensaries would be in Moosomin, Estevan or Weyburn. All three locations are at least an hour away from White Bear and the nearby communities of Carlyle, Arcola and Kenosee Lake.
Pasap said the dispensary could potentially serve the entire area.
“They’re going to want closer access to retail sales of cannabis,” he said.
According to Pasap, the first step is to approve the idea of an on-reserve dispensary locally. The meeting should happen sometime in the next six weeks.
“We’re going to push forward if the community approves us to go forward with retail and possibly production sales of cannabis,” he said.
The band is open to discussing the topic with the provincial government.
CTV News reached out to the provincial government, but was not available for comment.
The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations says it supports the idea of First Nations deciding whether or not they want to be involved in the distribution of marijuana.
“We respect the tribal sovereignty,” said FSIN Vice Chief David Pratt. “We respect the individual nation’s right whether to participate, or to not participate.”
If White Bear decides to approve the dispensary, it would become the first non-provincially approved reserves in Saskatchewan to move ahead with a marijuana retail location.
“It makes good business sense,” Pasap said. “We’re going to make sure it’s done in a responsible way.”
Based on a report by CTV Yorkton's Cole Davenport