Canada Licenses First Indigenous Owned and Operated Medical Marijuana Facility

A First Nations community is seizing opportunities in Canada’s newly legal cannabis industry.
Canada Licenses First Indigenous Owned and Operated Medical Marijuana Facility
Soru Epotok/ Shutterstock

Canadian regulators have licensed the country’s first Indigenous owned and operated medical marijuana facility, it was announced recently. The facility, Seven Leaf, received a license to operate as a medicinal cannabis cultivator and processor under the Access to Cannabis For Medical Purposes Regulations from Health Canada late last month.

Seven Leaf is located in the Akwesasne Mohawk Territory on Cornwall Island, Ontario and is run by members of the Akwesasne community with experience in horticulture, pharmaceuticals, law, and business administration. 

Lewis Mitchell, the president of Seven Leaf and former Akwesasne Mohawk chief of police, said in a press release that the company is committed to providing opportunities for the Akwesasne community.

“The Seven Leaf team is deeply rooted in the Akwesasne community,” Mitchell said. “We take tremendous pride in our First Nations Territory and believe in providing advancement and growth opportunities for a strong, prosperous future. We are establishing quality jobs—where our college and university graduates have something to come home for, and to stay for.”

Facility Spurs Growth

Mitchell also noted that Seven Leaf could spur additional economic development for the First Nations community.

“Seven Leaf has the potential to create a new economy on Akwesasne which in turn will impact the broader Akwesasne economy with new jobs and contracting opportunities,” said Mitchell.

Building the cannabis facility has already created jobs for local people in the construction trades and Seven Leaf has already begun hiring for its operations.

“We’re employing twenty-four people from Akwesasne, that’s phase one, once we’re totally complete, once the complete buildout is finished for maximum capacity, we expect to hire seventy-five people from this community,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell said that the new operation will provide jobs on the reservation for workers of varying educational levels. The company expects to complete its next phase of hiring within six months.

“Seven Leaf can offer steady employment for a range of work that makes it attractive for our high school and college graduates,” said Mitchell. “We expect to have many jobs over the next year – from maintenance to growers to senior staff and everything in between.”

First Harvest By Spring

The company has repurposed a former water bottling plant on the reservation to house its current operations. Seven Leaf expects to grow rapidly during its first two years of business, eventually tripling its current production space of 84,000 square feet.

Mitchell said that the facility will operate on a cultivation cycle of 120 days from propagation to harvest. Seven Leaf expects to harvest its first crop of medicinal cannabis is the spring of 2019 and should be operating at full capacity by the following autumn.

Abram Benedict, Grand Chief of the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, said that the new medical marijuana facility will bring economic opportunity to the reservation and applauded the approval from Canadian regulators.

“The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne shares in the celebration of the licensing of Seven Leaf,” said Benedict. “We look forward to the positive contribution Seven Leaf will have on Akwesasne’s economy and look forward to advancing our working relationship with Health Canada to ensure our common objectives are achieved.”

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