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Cannabis law read through behind closed doors

(Left to right) Vernon Goodleaf, Keisha Goodleaf, and Joe Delaronde listen while Rhonda Kirby gives final reading of cannabis control law Tuesday, December 4. (Lachlan Madill, The Eastern Door)

The controversial Kahnawake Cannabis Control Law was given a final reading earlier this week in a closed setting, marking the end of the Community Decision-Making Process (CDMP) on marijuana.

“It’s the official reading, we’ve said it time and time again, we’re not at that point of having a debate at any of these sessions,” said Mohawk Council chief Rhonda Kirby.

After the last two community meetings ended in chaos, with the most recent on November 20, the Kahnawake Legislative Coordinating Commission (KLCC) announced last week that the CDMP Phase II hearings were complete.

This week the formal reading was held in the MCK communications room.

“It’s actually based on the last couple of meetings, we’ve had comments from community members on their own safety in the meetings and their inability to ask questions, feeling that they would be ridiculed by some of the other community members at the meetings,” said Kirby.

The reading of the 24-page document was live-streamed and is posted to the MCK site.   

Details in the new legislation still have to be worked out before it goes into effect, which is still months away.

In addressing some of the concerns about the lack of consultation and input from the community, political attaché Joe Delaronde said that the process has been going on for more than two years.

“A lot of what was put in here, especially when you talk about a communal benefit, that was because of the consultations that took place where people were adamant that they wanted the community as a whole to get something and not just individuals,” said Delaronde.

Delaronde was referring to the point-of-sale fees at licensed dispensaries, which have been labeled royalties to be paid to council on a monthly basis for the benefit of community projects and initiatives.

License holders themselves must make contributions to a community fund, which will be for community socio-economic, education, and drug prevention initiatives.

There will be several categories of licenses, which will include dispensary, cultivation, processing and distribution.

But a Health Canada license must also be held along with one issued by the control board.

The Kahnawake cannabis control board will determine price controls, licensing, royalties and contribution fees. The three–member board will be responsible for the regulation, administration, and enforcement of the law.

“It still will be several months before the regulations are made. It will be a phased in approach, creating the cannabis control board, the terms, so there still has to be considerable work done before we get to that point of recommending a set price,” said Kirby.

The law raises the legal age to 21 to use cannabis products on the territory. This falls in line with legislation introduced this by the new Quebec government, which is raising the age from 18 to 21. In the rest of Canada, the legal age is either 18 or 19 meaning  Kahnawake and Quebec will now have the highest legal age in the country for cannabis use.

“It’s understandable that it’s not going to be a simple matter of fines and things like that. It’s really going to be about education more than anything because of the conflict of the laws that are out there,” said Delaronde.

The law will go to council this coming Monday (December 10) to be ratified and after that it won’t go into effect until sometime next year.

news@easterndoor.com

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