Home Editorial The word of the day is marijuana 

The word of the day is marijuana 

Megan Kanerahtenha:wi Whyte The Eastern Door

As the lottery for three cannabis dispensary licenses heats up, with a preliminary list of potential names and locations released this week, many concerned community members brought up many valid points. 

First, the number three. Depending on which side you’re on – to weed or not to weed – three is way too many or far too few. It has been a lively debate, and community members question why it is limited to three if the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake (MCK) stands behind the act of creating a law and places of distribution in town. 

The dangers of drug use are there – they won’t allow them, apparently, near schools and anywhere kids can be influenced – and you either want drugs out of town or you don’t really care. Many stand to profit. 

Not allowing them near schools doesn’t mean children won’t know about them and be exposed to them. They are smarter than we give them credit for. So that argument, although valid, and we certainly wouldn’t want Joe Blow’s Weed Shop to pop up next to Survival School, is not entirely foolproof. 

When making the laws the MCK was, we think, trying to accomplish certain things. One, not to put too many stores out there to flood the market and cause too much of an uproar, but two, to understand that these stores are coming no matter what, so they needed to maintain control. 

And, of course, they want the ohwista that goes with it. 

There’s already so much talk about people unhappy with the process – the ones who missed (or didn’t know about) the deadline to submit an application for a store, or the ones who say if they are denied one of the three golden permits, they will open up shop nonetheless. 

“If many of us open, whether we have a permit or not, how can they shut us all down?” one anonymous businessperson said to us directly. 

Weed is a four-letter word, and people are ready to put everything they have on the line for a piece of the golden goose. 

Because, make no mistake, these stores will make the owners very rich. There’s just too much traffic that passes through here, and, from what we see in Kanesatake and at provincial pot shops, way too much of a demand. 

The ones against drugs in town also have valid points. Don’t put it within reach of our kids, but also those who are easily addicted, who will use this as a potential gateway to bigger things.  

Weed, in spite of some nouveau Onkwehón:we rights activists, was never our way. We just didn’t use mind-altering drugs and didn’t have access to this particular plant. 

There will be protests, potentially, but let’s be honest, with the social media chatter going on now, it’s like Bar B Barn was shut down all over again, but in Katisville. Nothing makes people angrier than meat and weed.  

The MCK – and, we’re guessing, the community at large – didn’t want another tobacco situation where you’re walking down the street and a cigarette store is following you. You just can’t get away from retailers, wholesalers, or manufacturers in town, so weed can’t copy the tobacco-scape. It’s just too much. 

But will the number three sustain the demand – both of consumers and business folks? In short, no it won’t. 

The releasing of the names led to confusion of the process. Although it is a preliminary list, it is being attacked like lawyers looking over a jury list in a capital murder case, and that’s something you can always count on in Kahnawake – people will speak their mind whether you like it or not. 

Harnessing the economic power of weed was also a big topic – why are these stores private to make individuals rich, instead of being owned by the town? Well, under current stewardship, owned by the town means the MCK – and many don’t trust that scenario either. 

Like it or not, weed is coming soon to a non-school corner near you, so it isn’t the three permits that will be the issue in a few short years. Many more are coming. Bet on that.

This editorial was originally published in print on March 22 in issue 33.12 of The Eastern Door.

Eastern Door Editor/Publisher Steve Bonspiel started his journalism career in January 2003 with The Nation magazine, a newspaper serving the Cree of northern Quebec.
Since that time, he has won numerous regional and national awards for his in-depth, impassioned writing on a wide variety of subjects, including investigative pieces, features, editorials, columns, sports, human interest and hard news.
He has freelanced for the Montreal Gazette, Toronto Star, Windspeaker, Nunatsiaq News, Calgary Herald, Native Peoples Magazine, and other publications.
Among Steve's many awards is the Paul Dumont-Frenette Award for journalist of the year with the Quebec Community Newspapers Association in 2015, and a back-to-back win in 2010/11 in the Canadian Association of Journalists' community category - one of which also garnered TED a short-list selection of the prestigious Michener award.
He was also Quebec Community Newspapers Association president from 2012 to 2019, and continues to strive to build bridges between Native and non-Native communities for a better understanding of each other.

Previous articleUproar mounts over Northvolt 
Next articleKahnawake wins big at Indigenous Science Fair
Eastern Door Editor/Publisher Steve Bonspiel started his journalism career in January 2003 with The Nation magazine, a newspaper serving the Cree of northern Quebec. Since that time, he has won numerous regional and national awards for his in-depth, impassioned writing on a wide variety of subjects, including investigative pieces, features, editorials, columns, sports, human interest and hard news. He has freelanced for the Montreal Gazette, Toronto Star, Windspeaker, Nunatsiaq News, Calgary Herald, Native Peoples Magazine, and other publications. Among Steve's many awards is the Paul Dumont-Frenette Award for journalist of the year with the Quebec Community Newspapers Association in 2015, and a back-to-back win in 2010/11 in the Canadian Association of Journalists' community category - one of which also garnered TED a short-list selection of the prestigious Michener award. He was also Quebec Community Newspapers Association president from 2012 to 2019, and continues to strive to build bridges between Native and non-Native communities for a better understanding of each other.