Aside from issues arising from regulations that vary wildly between provinces, the newly legalized recreational cannabis industry has experienced bumps along the road due to the intersection of federal law and self-governing First Nations.

Since it became clear the Cannabis Act would pass last summer, a variety of Indigenous groups have worked to craft their own laws after being excluded from discussions on the landmark nationwide legislation.

To tackle some of the ongoing concerns about Indigenous communities competing in the cannabis industry and communicating health issues associated with marijuana usage, the National Indigenous Cannabis and Hemp Conference will be held in Ottawa next month.

The conference will kick off with an Ottawa Shaw Centre reception the evening of Feb. 19 and feature a variety of panels running through Feb. 21.

Members of Parliament have been invited to attend, and the speaker schedule includes an appearance by Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor. In her position as Health Minister, Taylor has played a central role in the rollout of cannabis legalization.

Other speakers include representatives from cannabis company Wiisag, Mohawk Council member Chief Gina Deer, and naturopathic medicine professor Dr. Neil McKinney.

Isadore Day, Chief Executive Officer of Indigenous-focused capital venture company Bimaadzwin, commented that the conference “represents a significant opportunity for First Nations and Indigenous peoples to secure a significant competitive position in the national and global cannabis and hemp markets.”

Day added, “There are a number of questions and concerns on policy, process, and participation that we need answered at next month’s conference.”

This second edition of the conference arrives as First Nations members are increasingly taking high profile positions in burgeoning cannabis companies across Canada.

Alta-Sun Samson Holdings, for instance, operates an Edmonton cultivation site led by head grower Andrew Morin, whose father was the former Chief of the Enoch Cree Nation.

That company just recently inked a cannabis supply deal with AgraFlora Organics International Inc. (CSE: AGRA; OTCPK: PUFXF).

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