The BCAFN supports First Nations in their self-determined decisions regarding cannabis, and the various ways First Nations are navigating the health, social, cultural, economic, and legal aspects of cannabis.
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which the government of BC has implemented in law and the government of Canada has adopted without qualification, and has committed to implement in law, affirms:
Article 4: Indigenous peoples, in exercising their right to self-determination, have the right to autonomy or self-government in matters relating to their internal and local affairs, as well as ways and means for financing their autonomous functions.
Article 20 (1): Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and develop their political, economic and social systems or institutions, to be secure in the enjoyment of their own means of subsistence and development, and to engage freely in all their traditional and other economic activities.
Article 21: Indigenous peoples have the right, without discrimination, to the improvement of their economic and social conditions, including, inter alia, in the area of education, employment vocational training and retraining, housing, sanitation, health and social security.
Article 23: Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for exercising their right to development. In particular, indigenous peoples have the right to be actively involved in developing and determining health, housing and other economic and social programmes affecting them and, as far as possible, to administer such programmes through their own institutions.
Article 26 (1): Indigenous peoples have the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired.
Article 32 (1): Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for the development or use of their lands or territories and other resources.
On October 17, 2018 the federal Cannabis Act came in to force, creating a legal framework for the production, distribution, sale, and possession of cannabis in Canada. Within this framework, provincial governments are responsible for determining how cannabis is distributed and sold within their jurisdictions. The Government of British Columbia subsequently passed the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act, the Cannabis Distribution Act, and the Motor Vehicle Act, along with a number of new and amended regulations.
Federal and Provincial legislation was passed with only limited engagement with Indigenous Peoples, despite the impact that it will have on First Nations governments and Communities. First Nations have an interest in revenue, economic development, health, safety, and education, among other matters, as they relate to cannabis, and which are tied to inherent jurisdiction.
For more information on the federal and provincial legal and regulatory frameworks, see the Resources Section.
The BCAFN is working to provide jurisdiction-related resources for First Nations soon.