AS WE ALL KNOW, the medicinal and recreational cannabis industry is one that is fast developing across the whole world, with Canada aiming for recreational legalization later in 2018. Anyone doing a little bit of research will see that while cannabis access has improved over the last decade in Canada through the Government medical licensing programs or with upcoming legalization for recreational use, the Government have always made every attempt to control its production, distribution and profits, continually arresting individuals and raiding dispensaries across the country. Despite BC having an effective private dispensary model, Provinces are now in talks of setting up a whole new standard for distribution where the Government and liquor boards can get the pieces of the pie.
A membership driven cooperative, the National lndigenous Medical Cannabis Association (NIMCA) is a non-profit corporation developed by lndigenous peoples, for lndigenous peoples. Established in January 2017, NIMCA’s purpose is to educate, promote, advocate and defend the interests and rights of lndigenous people, communities and businesses involved or wishing to be involved in the cannabis industry throughout Canada and its Treaty territories.
NIMCA also represents a growing network of cannabis and hemp growers and farmers, hemp processors and manufacturers, dispensary owners and other cannabis industry related operations, with 21 businesses currently on board.
Now, as the U.N. Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples states, Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions, as well as the manifestations of their sciences, technologies and cultures, including human and genetic resources, seeds, medicines, knowledge of the properties of fauna and flor oral traditions, literatures, designs, sports and traditional games and visual and performing arts. They also have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their intellectual property over such cultural heritage, traditional knowledge, and traditional cultural expressions.
Arguably, there is more traditional and historical knowledge and use of the hemp and cannabis plant within Indigenous or First Nation communities than in common colonial society, and given the increasing value of hemp and cannabis in the current emerging global market, it is of utmost importance we protect not only what is a vital part of our cultural history, but a highly valuable asset that can allow our communities to thrive in this booming economy, while potentially strengthening our negotiating power when dealing with Government. But as Natives know all too well (in any country), many of our rights and resources get unfairly taken away from us by those ultimately in positions of power.
Currently, each Province is setting their own regulations for the legalization of recreational cannabis, and when looking at current regulations for medicinal cannabis production and distribution, or even proposed regulations within a recreational context, one thing is for certain… very few privileges are being given to the private market, with strict regulations and extremely high penalties for infractions.
NIMCA has a vision to standardize the legal cannabis industry within Indigenous cannabis communities not only in philosophy and education, but in true practice with a safe and fully traceable production and distribution model that is up to Government standard (and higher!). In doing so, it offers the Government no reason to interfere. Instead, NIMCA plans to develop a model so effective, it allows for lucrative business relationships to be developed between the Indigenous people and Canada, as well as with the global cannabis market.
NIMCA currently boasts a facility that rivals those of current Canadian cannabis Licensed Producers and makes every effort to follow all their proposed facility, security and production procedures. In accordance with their vision to create a fully traceable system for their community, NIMCA works with only a select few designated medical cannabis growers and own a commercial facility that offers every service under one roof that any cannabis-related business could ever possibly need.
In an effort to ensure Government standards or higher, the facility was set up following similar guidelines set out by the Canadian government for legal Licensed Producers, while also creating departments for quality concentrate production, edible production, and even on-site testing. With access to these services, NIMCA offers Indigenous communities the ability to create a standardized and safe cannabis industry to thrive in and self-regulate.
Their facility is already prepared for the expansion of cannabis access options for the public and houses a food-grade kitchen for creating commercial-grade quality edibles, a cannabis extraction department capable of making several kinds of concentrates, an inventory warehouse for smoking accessories and apparel, a packaging department with professional grade packaging and labeling equipment, a highly secure vault for safe cannabis storage, on-site security and surveillance, and even a fully equipped lab department capable of doing on-site batch testing of products!
NIMCA also plans to develop a cooperative growing project allowing the cultivation of cannabis and hemp plants in one secure and regulated location in order to further ensure traceability and standardization across all Indigenous cannabis businesses, keeping the industry out of the hands of criminals and the black market.
With NIMCA’s model, any cannabis business that is part of the organization will be able to provide records that track every product from seed to sale, which will support a thriving and protected Indigenous cannabis market, and using this healing plant to restore, revitalize and heal native communities across Canada by securing their place within the emerging cannabis market.