Indigenous are pushing cannabis industry forward: All Nations CEO
Published on April 28, 2023 by David Wylie
Supporting sovereign Indigenous rights over cannabis makes things better for all, says All Nations CEO Darwin Douglas
The CEO behind one of Canada’s best known Indigenous cannabis companies encourages everyone to forge Indigenous partnerships in the pot industry.
Darwin Douglas, who leads All Nations Cannabis, says moving Indigenous rights forward in the cannabis space helps move the whole industry ahead—and he pointed to All Nations Cannabis as an example for their work in negotiating direct delivery in BC.
Douglas spoke at the BC Cannabis Summit in Kelowna about the government-to-government Section 119 agreement between the province of BC and the Cheam First Nation. Douglas, who is also Tribal Chief of the Stó:lō Tribal Council, says the agreement took two and a half years to negotiate. It allows them to deliver directly from their cultivation facility to their nearby retail store, only a few hundred metres away on Cheam First Nation, east of Chilliwack.
Douglas says they refused to sign an agreement until they were allowed to deliver directly to the store, instead of going to the province and then out wholesale. Once the province agreed, a day later the BC government announced direct delivery would go into effect throughout the province, he says.
It shows that supporting inherent Indigenous rights will make things better for everyone, he adds.
“We do have a lot to offer and we want to work with everybody,” he says. “We put some love and good energy into the cannabis we grow.”
All Nations available across the nation
All Nations’ cannabis grows a number of different strains, including Stó:lō Haze, Modified Grapes, Mac Daddy, and Lemon Tartz.
They also recently launched a new brand, called Uncle Bob.
Douglas says the company’s weed will be in all provinces by the end of the year. They’re also sending cannabis internationally, with orders from Israel and Germany.
About 85% of their workforce is Indigenous.
Douglas was part of the legacy industry. His stepfather was a pioneer in BC cannabis.
“When I was 19, I was guerilla gardening around Chilliwack,” he says.
Cannabis is helping keep their culture alive today, he says. All Nations supports a language teacher come to the band to teach.
Anger toward federal, provincial governments
Frustration among local Indigenous representatives was apparent.
Former Westbank First Nation chief Roxanne Lindley spent a good part of her opening address at the Summit talking about her disappointment with BC Deputy Premier and Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth.
Lindley says members of their delegation were poorly treated—though she didn’t offer specifics.
She received a standing ovation when she told the crowd she wouldn’t let government dictate what she can do.
“Let’s take a look at Section 119. What did that do? That’s a joke,” she says. “While (Farnworth) was hosing us, he was hosing you too.”
Greg Hopf, who’s founder of Indigenous tourism company Moccasin Trails in West Kelowna, says he wants acknowledgment from the federal government of Indigenous sovereignty in the Cannabis Act.
“We just want their goddamned support publicly. We don’t make laws and policies just for a joke. They mean something. Respect that,” he says.
More money for BC Indigenous Cannabis Business Fund
While Farnworth spoke at the Summit over the weekend, the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General sent out a news release announcing another $2.3 million for the BC Indigenous Cannabis Business Fund (ICBF).
The fund was launched in 2022 to support Indigenous participation in the regulated side.
The money is in addition to the original joint contribution of up to $7.5 million by the province and the federal government over three years. The fund supports business planning and advisory services, and helps Indigenous businesses or First Nations cover the costs of licensing and permitting. It also makes capital available to support the launch or expansion of businesses.