The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne (MCA) recently established a Cannabis Working Task Group with the first meeting being held on December 14, 2017.  This group is comprised of Council members, a Youth Council representative, an Elder representative, and representatives from the Departments of Health, Tehotiienawakon, Justice, Community and Social Services and the Akwesasne Mohawk Police Services. The priority of this group is to research, examine and report back to Council options for consideration regarding the regulation, distribution and sale of recreational cannabis.


The formation of the Cannabis Working Task Group was important as Canada is looking at the legalization of recreational cannabis across the country as soon as next summer.  Bill C-45, which would legalize recreational cannabis, is currently in senate awaiting approval.  This bill largely leaves it up to the provinces and territories to determine how cannabis can be sold and used. In December, Ontario passed legislation to ensure safe transition to the Federal Cannabis Legalization.


The Mohawk Council recognized the fact that action would need to take place in order to ensure that the community’s best interests are protected, therefore the Cannabis Working Task Group was created.  During the first meeting, committee members discussed the impact that recreational cannabis would have on the community. Recreational cannabis discussion requires a balanced conversation about harm reduction through educational information in a non-biased approach.  There was discussion that if the MCA supported the distribution and sale of recreational cannabis, additional prevention programs and support mechanisms in the community would need to be looked at to decrease the risks of addiction to vulnerable populations.  Additionally, the issue of the multi-jurisdictional complexity that Akwesasronon knows too well was also discussed. If recreational cannabis was available for distribution, there would be an effect on Quebec residents that are land-locked by the United States (as recreational cannabis is still considered illegal in New York State).  The most important factor is the impact on residents; the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne wants to ensure the safety of all.


Committee members determined that in order to better gauge the community, a survey tool would be created in an unbiased approach to see how Akwesasne residents feel about the regulation, distribution and sale of recreational cannabis. This survey is expected to be distributed in early January 2018.  Should community members have any questions, concerns, or wish to have further information, they may contact the Mohawk Government Office at 613-575-2348