Part of the contentious Kahnawà:ke Cannabis Control Law is the establishment of a board that will apply the rules of the law in the community. The three board members have been chosen, and the process now begins. (File photo)
After over a year of heated community meetings, petitions, and debate, Kahnawake will at long last have a Cannabis Control Board.
Tuesday, Tara Jacobs, Tewenhni’tátshon Louis Delisle, and Brandon Montour were appointed as members of the board.
The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake decided to choose these three individuals after weeks of looking at potential candidates, and putting two calls for members.
Nine candidates applied for the position.
Council portfolio chief Tonya Perron said before the second call for candidates went out she was hoping to have young people take an interest in being a part of the board.
She got her wish with Montour, 22, being the youngest of the new board members.
“I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues and we’re hoping to get things rolling and to hand out the licenses,” Montour told The Eastern Door. “We’re hoping to start selling within the community and to make sure the profits go to us rather than outside communities.”
The Kahnawà:ke Cannabis Control Law created the board.
“The board will administer this law in the best interests of the Kanien’kehá:ka of Kahnawà:ke and in accordance with the highest principles of health, safety, security, honesty, and integrity,” the law reads. “In addition to any other duties and responsibilities that may be provided to it in this law, the board will: issue, suspend and revoke the licenses provided in this law and the regulations; regulate, monitor and inspect all the premises and activities of license holders; and make any decision and take any action as is necessary to fulfill the purposes of this law.”
Montour explained that although he is the youngest, having a youth’s perspective is valuable.
“I think it’s a good opportunity that the board represents the community and with someone as young as myself on the board, it really allows this table to have a younger generation’s view,” he said. “Being a university student, studying political science, I believe I’m a good fit for this.”
Montour attends Concordia University and has experience on multiple other boards at his school. He is now finished his third year and plans to help in any way possible.
“One thing that I really want to work on is regulation,” he said. “I think that regulation is something I believe in and I felt that I wanted to be a part of because I believe in it. We also have a moratorium in Kahnawake but in reality, our teens and others are getting cannabis outside the community despite it being illegal here.”
Tara Jacobs will sit alongside Montour and believes cannabis should be highly regulated in the community.
“One of the reasons why I applied is because I’m against the legalization of marijuana,” said Jacobs, who is a Kahnawake Peacekeeper analyst. “Even when Canada legalized it, I was against it. Since there has been talk about dispensaries and shops, the one thing I want is for it to be controlled. I don’t want it to be like the cigarette trade.”
Jacobs is part of multiple boards throughout the community, including the Kahnawake Youth Center and the Legion Mohawk Branch 219.
When applying for the role she wrote a letter of intent, which explained her opinion on the matter.
“I’m against all drugs in general and it’s important that we make sure it doesn’t get out of control and make sure it is monitored,” said Jacobs. “I would focus on medical use rather than recreational. I have no problem with medical, but I don’t want it to be abused recreationally.
“My big concern is location,” she said. “I don’t think having it in the heart of the community is good. We have people complaining that non-locals are coming into the community, and it makes sense not to put it there because it’ll cause more outrage.”
Jacobs favours locations near the edge of the community away from residential areas.
Montour also explained his views on the law and the industry’s future in the community.
“I think the law is a great opportunity for a source of revenue for Kahnawake and I believe that it’s a great way to exercise our jurisdiction and our sovereignty as Mohawk people,” he said.
Elder Delisle said he would comment only after meeting with his fellow board members.