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Lhtako Dené Nation eyes cannabis grow operation

Retail store going great says manager Raymond Aldred
Lhtako Grass budtenders Heather Browning and Jonara Paul, and shift supervisor Cyrilea Michell were pleased to welcome customers through their drive-thu Saturday, April 3. (Rebecca Dyok photo)

Lhtako Dené Nation is seeking to expand its marijuana footprint.

The First Nation south of Quesnel is actively pursuing an agreement that will support the operation of a cannabis production facility. The move comes nearly five months after a soft opening was held for its retail and drive-thru cannabis store Lhtako Grass on Arbutus Road.

“Our goal is to acquire this license, and we want to be able to provide as much source as we can in the Quesnel area,” said Lhtako Dené Nation Councillor Raymond Aldred, who is also the manager of Lhtako Grass.

“We have big dreams for this.”

If approved, Lhtako Dené would be the second First Nation to enter into a government-to-government agreement under section 119 of B.C.’s Cannabis Control Licensing Act.

Read More: Drive-thru cannabis store coming to Lhtako Dene Nation near Quesnel

The Williams Lake First Nation (WLFN) near Williams Lake inked an agreement with B.C. late last September after breaking ground three months earlier on the province’s first farm-to-gate cannabis cultivation facility—Sugar Cane Cannabis.

With a $3 million price tag, the micro facility will produce up to 650 kilograms of cannabis which will be available for on-site retail sale and supply WLFN-owned Unity Cannabis stores, including the one located next door.

Under the agreement, any remaining product could be purchased by the BC Liquor Distribution Branch for its BC Cannabis Stores or other provincially licensed retailers.

Kirk Dressler of WLFN said construction on the cultivation facility is nearing completion and it will take about three months to get through the initial growing process.

“By late summer or fall we’ll be in a position to retail from that facility which is exciting,” he said.

The first Unity Cannabis dispensary was previously the location of an Indigenous Bloom cannabis store that did not have a provincial license as it operated on reserve land under WLFN law.

WLFN is looking at operating six other Unity Cannabis stores primarily in the Okanagan and in places such as Merritt, Cache Creek and Kamloops, he added.

Lhtako Grass currently operates without a provincial licence, instead opting to operate under their own laws on reserve land.

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