PBCN needs answers on private marijuana sales

By Glenn Hicks
January 10, 2018 - 12:00pm

Like other communities, the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation is seeking clarity from the province after it released the beginnings of its legal cannabis plan. Roughly 60 permits will be handed out to 40 municipalities and First Nations for private marijuana retail outlets.

The PBCN and Lac La Ronge Indian Band are on the list issued by the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) for the private sale of pot once it is legalized this summer.

“Peter Ballantyne did not ask to be on that list, but nevertheless we are,” Chief Peter A. Beatty told paNOW. “Perhaps going down the road there is a business opportunity.”

But Beatty made it clear it was too early to say whether his community will indeed decide to allow private marijuana sales. The province has said it will be up to each community on the list to determine if they want to opt out.

“I have talked to a few individual council members who view this as a prime business opportunity,” Beatty said. “Those are things that we need to ask our membership and get their feedback as well.”

One big question is if marijuana sold on reserve will be tax free as tobacco is. And what would be the tax implications for First Nations buying off reserve? Beatty stressed with tobacco all First Nations are entitled to the tax rebate regardless of which band they’re from.

“We have to get a clear message from SLGA as to how this is all going to roll out on reserve,” Beatty said.

Beatty stressed the community would be consulted, and added it would not make sense for the PBCN to make any decisions ahead of April elections.

“We don’t want to preempt any new government coming in so I can’t say this or that is going to happen until the people decide who will be their government,” he added.

The Lac La Ronge Indian Band was expected to comment Wednesday regarding its reaction to the private sales permit model. La Ronge deputy mayor Glen Watchel told larongeNOW earlier if the First Nation community decided not to opt out it would be a good idea for the two councils to sit together and talk about it. Watchel’s outstanding questions included if communities chose to opt out would that create more problems such as aiding the black market.

 

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