A Senate committee debating Bill C-45, the cannabis law, heard from a company advocating for full Indigenous participation on Monday.
Mike Fontaine, of IndigiCo, a company that wants to help First Nations get on the cannabis bandwagon, told senators the new bill represents a “generational opportunity for creating economic dignity for Indigenous people.”
“The ability to be a licensed producer provides the means to produce and or distribute cannabis outside of the reserves or traditional Indigenous territories leading to substantially larger positive participation in the economy,” added IndigiCo’s Sara Loft.
Fontaine told the committee on Aboriginal peoples that marijuana is relatively safe in terms of its toxicity.
“There’s no evidence anywhere that cannabis has killed one person,” he said. “I think the amount necessary to create a lethal dose in an individual is somewhere in the neighbourhood of 1,500 pounds ingested in 15 minutes.”
That statement seemed to annoy Ontario Senator Vernon White.
He quoted statistics from Colorado where traffic fatalities from marijuana influence had increased.
“So when you say nobody’s ever died from marijuana use I have to say after 32 years in policing, I’ve seen a lot of death as a result of people using marijuana. So what research are you using?” he said.
Meanwhile, a delegation from Nunavut expressed great concern over the new law.
One elder, Isaac Shouyuk, said this could destroy the territory’s smallest communities.
“Many many people committing suicide because of the alcohol and because of the cannabis,” he said in Inuktitut. “This is unacceptable. We don’t want any more problems being placed in front of us. Things we cannot deal with. Because there’s nothing in place to legalize cannabis in Nunavut.”
The senate will next hear about Bill B-45 and how it affects Indigenous people.