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K’ómoks First Nation issues statement following cannabis seizure of unlicensed shops

K’ómoks First Nation says they will continue to retain legal and business expertise to amend legislation after cannabis was seized from unlicensed shops on K’ómoks Reserve.

According to a statement, the province has moved forward with their next phase of enforcing the Cannabis Control and Licencing Act. The First Nation says that while the province initially focused on off-reserve shops that were not compliant, they started to focus on stores on First Nations’ land in late 2023.

K’ómoks First Nation says the province’s Community Safety Unit visited the unregulated cannabis businesses last month and shared educational materials about the licencing act and how the businesses can be compliant with Section 119 of the Act.

The law is of general application and that means it also applies to First Nations’ reserves. The First Nation says the CSU confiscated unlicensed shops on the reserve on Wednesday.

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“We understand that the CSU’s actions today impact our members and their livelihood,” said the Nation. “K’ómoks did not have a say in the province’s actions. The province is enforcing their law, as is their jurisdiction.”

The Nation adds the cannabis market can provide significant opportunities for First Nations communities. However, they say the way the act is designed now, it is hard for First Nations to participate and progress to amend legislation has been slow.

“It is our job as elected leadership to represent our people and advocate for our right for self-governance,” said the Nation. “We will continue to work on the issue to find a resolution, but it will take time.

“Our best course of action is to retain legal and business expertise to lobby the government to amend legislation. This will take many months of dedicated effort and community engagement.”

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The First Nation says it plans to work with store owners and consult with its community to find a path forward.

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