This weekend on Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, a new type of festival is scraping the surface of what the future of the green market could look like. Organizers say the Indigenous Cannabis Cup is a place for people to celebrate, and learn more about the positive effects of marijuana.
On some Indigenous lands, the plant is a part of a culture that has never gone away and is now leading the way in the medicinal marijuana industry.
“Everyone’s here for the same purpose, not just the cannabis, but the healing of it,” says co-organizer Stacy Huff.
Cannabis has been used for aches and pains, anxiety, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia.
For organizers of the first festival of its kind in Canada, the goal is to help small businesses from nearby communities prepare for when cannabis is legal. Huff says it is also a way to show nearby communities what can be achieved.
“This is a learning tool for other communities of what is possible, of what can be done, and what is happening — they just need to accept it, open their minds and let it happen.”
The production and sale of marijuana are not governed by Canadian law on this territory, so vendors on site are able to sell everything from cookies and brownies to the actual bud.
According to small business operators, what the platform of the festival offers is second to none.
Natalie Sophia, VP of marketing for Mrs. Fudgemaker, says, “We knew that we had to be part of this because it is going to be one of the biggest festivals so far before legalization.”
The only legal issue the festival faced was making sure that no one would drive under the influence. In working with the local authorities, they came up with plans to ensure everyone’s safety.
“We have provided free camping, we’ve provided every outlet we can so that people can enjoy the cannabis plant and we have expressed to everyone that we don’t encourage driving while impaired,” says event co-ordinator Mel Wilhelm.
Chadwick McGregor is the owner of First Nations Medicinal and says sharing his way of life has always been important.
“We share our knowledge and we share medicines with people and that’s our culture and that’s what we’re here today to really try to do.”