Unsanctioned cannabis sales mean an end to untaxed cigarettes for Aamjiwnaang store owner

| Staff |

The owner of a tobacco store and a cannabis store on First Nations land near Sarnia, Ontario, says she was unfairly discriminated against by the local Aamjiwnaang Band Council for selling unlicensed cannabis. 

Cassie Jean Veronica Adams, the owner of Pot of Gold, an unlicensed cannabis store, and Waterfront Smoke Shop, a tobacco store, which both operate out of the same building, says the band council denied her application to sell unmarked, tax-exempt tobacco cigarettes in her store. 

Band Council denied her application for an allocation of unmarked cigarettes first for the 2021-2022 annual allocation period and then for 2022-2023.

Leaders based their refusal to allocate unmarked cigarettes to Adams because of criminal convictions related to the unlicensed cannabis dispensary following several raids in 2020. The store was also raided twice in 2018 after complaints they were selling cannabis products to minors on Aamjiwnaang First Nation Reserve.

A fire that caused “substantial damage” to a building on the property occurred in April 2020.  

In one raid in December 2020, police seized about 64 kilograms of cannabis flower, along with edibles, extracts, and tens of thousands in cash. The Pot of Gold location was not operating with the approval of Aamjiwnaang Band Council.

Adams brought the refusal from the council to Ontario court for a judicial review, arguing that the band council did not have the right to make such a decision. The court disagreed, dismissing the application and requiring Adams to pay the council  $45,000.00 to cover court costs. 

Feature image via Google Maps from July 2021