Ontario Cops Fine Driver for Cannabis Bought On-Reserve

Wednesday, November 28th 2018
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Just outside Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, Ontario Provincial Police ticketed a man $215 for driving a vehicle with cannabis within reach. The man said he bought the 27 grams of cannabis on Tyendinaga Territory and police fined him $180 for unlawfully purchasing cannabis. (Global News)

  • Though Ontario Attorney General Caroline Mulroney stressed that in the province dispensaries located on reserve are not legal, there has been no action against shops in communities like Tyendinaga, where a population of 4,150 supports between 30 and 50 dispensaries. (Global News, The Star)
  • Most Canadian Indigenous communities do not deal with provincial governments but rather with the Government of Canada. Many in Tyendinaga, a Reserve under the Federal Indian Act, do not consider the provincial government to have authority over them. (APTN)
  • Moreover, the cannabis trade has been an enormous windfall for the community--and other Indigenous communities like it. (Thomson Reuters)
  • Locals have signalled their willingness to provoke a constitutional challenge should police make any attempt to curtail their business. If Tyendinaga dispensary owners are willing to fund a court case against the province based on treaty law and the federal Indian Act, it could quickly become very thorny and expensive for both sides. Perhaps for that reason, the province has so far left Tyendinaga alone.
  • This is the first case I've heard of in which the OPP fined a non-Indigenous person for cannabis purchased on-reserve.

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