With the appointment of Herb Rice, the Kahnawake Cannabis Control Board will finally be able to make quorum and get back to its work setting up the cannabis industry in Kahnawake.
“I’m familiar with commissions and rules and regulations, so I thought, well, this is a good opportunity to help them,” said Rice, who previously spent four years on the Kahnawake Gaming Commission.
The cannabis board is tasked with administering the Kahnawake Cannabis Control Law, including processing applications and implementing regulations.
Prior to the appointment of Rice, the three-person board had two vacancies.
“I look forward to working with him,” said Tara Jacobs, who was recently reappointed to the board for a second three-year term. According to Jacobs, the body had been unable to make its two-person quorum for months, grinding progress to a halt.
“I’m glad that we did obtain a new board member, so now we can continue working where we left off,” she said. Brandon Montour, who was the board’s chairperson, is expected to return this fall after temporarily resigning.
Currently, the board is focused on cannabis cultivation, with work on dispensaries to come later.
“We’re working towards the dispensaries. We don’t know when that’s going to come into effect,” said Jacobs.
Like Jacobs, Rice believes dispensaries should be permitted on the territory, but only in a limited number of areas that are mainly commercial.
A 2020 survey of the community showed a narrow majority of residents agreeing that dispensaries should only be allowed outside the village area. “I’m under the impression they don’t want to have a whole series of cannabis shops here like they have in Kanesatake,” said Rice.
He is also interested in ensuring those vying to get involved in the production of cannabis in Kahnawake are evaluated and subsequently operate according to a uniform set of rules to ensure fairness and quality.
“You want to make sure that this whole business of manufacturing, processing, and dispensaries are handled not only in what we think is the proper way, but in the community’s best interest,” he said.
According to the chairperson of the gaming commission, Daryl Leclaire, Rice will be an asset to the cannabis board.
“Herb’s a level-headed guy who weighs all options before coming to a decision, while keeping the regulations in focus. As a fellow commissioner, that’s everything you ask for,” he said.
“I’ve known Herb for about 15 years, and he’s got a wry sense of humour that’s really surpassed by few,” said Leclaire. “He’s a straight shooter and will give you an honest answer to your questions. It’s hard not to respect him for that.”
The cannabis board is still looking for an operations manager, another vacancy that has been a big hindrance, according to Jacobs. That paid position has been posted multiple times, but efforts to fill it have so far been unsuccessful.
Marcus Bankuti, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Door