Cannabis, Reconciliation, and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Prospects and Challenges for Cannabis Legalization in Canada


  • Konstantia Koutouki Professor, Faculty of Law, Université de Montréal; Lead Counsel for Natural Resources, Centre for International Sustainable Development Law at McGill University; Executive Director, Nomomente Institute.
  • Katherine Lofts Director of Research and Programmes, Nomomente Institute.



The provisions of the federal Cannabis Act came into force on 17 October 2018, opening a new era of cannabis management in Canada. We examine cannabis in Canada through the lens of reconciliation and the rights of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples. There is potential for Indigenous communities to benefit from cannabis legalization, but also a very real risk that the new legal framework will simply perpetuate existing injustices. We show that the new legislation is inadequate both in terms of lack of consultation with Indigenous communities, as well as in terms of substantive provisions — and omissions — in the legislation itself.