Manitoba cites “vital public security considerations” with the shutdown of the hashish enterprise

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The license to the Long Plain First Nation urban reservation business has been suspended for the sale of unregulated cannabis, but it looks like the concerns are related to an unregulated business.

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Angela Stelmakowich FILE: image for display.  Meta Cannabis Supply Company stores that opened in Winnipeg and are operated by National Access Cannabis of Ottawa.  /. FILE: image for display. Meta Cannabis Supply Company stores that opened in Winnipeg and are operated by National Access Cannabis of Ottawa. /.

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Meta Cannabis Supply Co.’s business in the Long Plain First Nation city reserve in Winnipeg, believed to be a first for Manitoba, was stripped after regulators reported it violated provincial requirements.

According to a joint statement by Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries (MBLL) and the Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority of Manitoba (LGCA), the deal is allegedly sanctioned and sells unregulated cannabis from an unlicensed store in the First Nation’s Keeshkeemaquah Reservation.

In addition, according to the agencies, the Madison Street store “sells cannabis made in a facility without a federal production license, which raises significant public safety concerns.”

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MBLL, Manitoba’s exclusive cannabis wholesaler, suspended its retail deal on May 19 with NAC Long Plain Limited Partnership, majority owned by Long Plain First Nation. This in turn resulted in an immediate suspension of the license of the business by LGCA.

Under Manitoba’s Alcohol, Gaming, and Cannabis Control Act, all weed businesses must be licensed by the LGCA. “The store will not be able to sell cannabis until these suspensions are lifted,” said the joint statement, which added that “several requests to Long Plain First Nation to cease this illegal activity went unanswered.”

A Facebook post posted on a Long Plain First Nation group website reported that the non-compliance was not related to the Madison Street store, but to an unlicensed retail store on the Keeshkeemaquah reservation in Portage la Prairie called Indigenous Bloom partially owned by the band.

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LGCA “took stock of the store’s inventory and controlled it until we resolved the situation,” Winnipeg Free Press quoted Amanda Creasy, director of public affairs for the agency. “But we don’t suspect that they were selling unregulated products.”

The deal is fully compliant, according to Omar Khan, senior vice president of corporate and public affairs at High Tide Inc., which acquired Meta from Winnipeg Free Press last November. “We are keeping all partners to the same standards as we are and, as such, will take the necessary steps in connection with the partnership with Long Plain First Nation,” said Khan.

In terms of compliance, the safety and quality regulations of the Federal Law on Cannabis are intended to help protect public health. There are requirements for growers who grow and manufacture cannabis, as well as industry-wide rules and standards that relate to packaging and labeling requirements, prohibitions on the use of certain ingredients, good production practices, and tracking requirements for seeds to sell, among other things.

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In Manitoba, the cannabis retail licensing framework aims to “ensure that adults who choose cannabis have access to safe products from regulated retailers,” said Kristianne Dechant, CEO of LGCA, in the latest statement.

Breaking the rules also puts the supply chain and the province’s 80 licensed cannabis retailers at risk, suggests Manny Atwal, CEO of MBLL. “Ignoring unlicensed operators who sell unlicensed products jeopardizes the success of licensed businesses,” added Atwal.

MLL can only purchase cannabis from producers licensed by Health Canada.

Cannabis license suspensions in Canada are not very common, although they have occurred. For example, CannTrust’s production license was suspended in the summer of 2019 after the company was cited for non-compliance with certain requirements, including poor safety and improper cannabis storage practices.

It is more common to suspend product sales. For example, sales of certain Bonify products were stopped after two product recalls in late 2018, resulting in no reports of side effects.

More recently, three companies have voluntarily stopped selling certain products, two have concerns about mold and the third has reports of vape pens with a mechanical problem. None of the recalls were associated with side effects or injuries.

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