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Peguis taking advantage of entrepreneurial opportunities

Peguis First Nation is looking to develop its economy by cashing in on Canada's latest cash crop - marijuana. 

Now that marijuana has been legalized in Canada, Peguis First Nation has employed its entrepreneurial spirit by partnering with GrowForce Holdings Inc. - a Canadian offshoot of American cannabis company MJardin Group - to create both cultivation and retail outlets for the product. 

Peguis is looking to set up retail locations in Selkirk and Winnipeg. 

Like many First Nations, Peguis has a high unemployment rate and has a need to generate its own capacity to employ people. 

Peguis Chief Glenn Hudson said, "People complain about us being a burden on tax payers." 

The proposed project could employ 200 people when running at full capacity. 

However, Peguis is going to have to wait for official designation of reserve status land at 1075 Portage Avenue before setting up a retail location there that would only be temporary until the strip mall is built at the same location. 

Still, there are some within the community who question setting up facilities to produce and sell cannabis and cannabis related products. 

To that end, Peguis has set up a question and answer on the Peguis First Nation website to answer some of these questions. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. WHERE WILL THE FACILITY BE BUILT, WHERE IS THE LOCATION? 

You may have heard that Fuller Road will serve as the location for the Cannabis Production Facility. It will not. There are a number of locations being reviewed for the production facility in the Winnipeg and Selkirk Industrial areas.

2. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR PEGUIS AND ITS MEMBERS? 

First Nations are becoming more and more engaged in the Cannabis Industry nationally. The unprecedented opportunities will create hundreds of permanent jobs, both on and off-reserve, as well as an equity ownership that will bring additional economic spin-offs to Peguis. The financial benefits include new self-generated revenue to better fund critical community needs, in areas such as: Elder Care, Housing and Health and Wellness services.

3. HOW DOES CANNABIS EFFECT THE DRUG PROBLEMS WE FACE IN OUR COMMUNITIES? 

A survey conducted by the Canadian Centre on Substance use and Addiction (CCSA) reported that Alcohol and Drug Abuse were the number one challenges for community wellness faced by onreserve communities. Data from 2011 reveals that 55% of drug overdose deaths were related to prescription medications, of which, 75% involved opiate painkillers. Researchers found that opiate-related deaths decreased by approximately 33% in 13 states in the following six years after medical marijuana was legalized.

4. IS CANNABIS ADDICTIVE? 

Former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders, MD stated that Cannabis "is not physically addictive" and alluded to the damaging impact of alcohol, which is legal. However, any kind of substance that effects you on a physiological level has the capacity to be addictive; this includes things like caffeine, alcohol and even exercise. Furthermore, anything in excess can be harmful to the body, so it is important to note that appropriate administration is critical with anything.

5. HOW WILL CANNABIS BE ACCESSED, WHERE WILL IT BE SOLD? 

It will be sold in retail outlets across Manitoba. As the Manitoba Government just recently gave the approval for conditional licensing, it is not known for sure where any of the retail locations will be located. However, the retail stores themselves will need to pass Government of Manitoba inspection for adherence to strict Health & Safety Standards.

6. WHO CAN PURCHASE CANNABIS? 

The Province of Manitoba has ruled that individuals 19 years of age and older, with valid identification, will be able to purchase Cannabis. This reduces the opportunity for usage by children & youth.

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