Manitoba First Nation lends CA$35M to marijuana retailer

A Manitoba First Nation has agreed to lend $35 million Canadian dollars ($26.6 million) to a Canadian cannabis firm to tap into the country’s imminent recreational market.

Ottawa-based National Access Cannabis has landed the financing from Opaskwayak Cree Nation – located northwest of Winnipeg, Manitoba.

National Access plans to use the funds to build out 50-70 cannabis retail locations across Western Canada, the company said in a news release. It eventually plans to open as many as 100 stores.

The loan’s timing will allow National Access to open retail locations in time for the Oct. 17 launch date set by Canadian officials for the legal sale of recreational cannabis, the firm said.

This is Opaskwayak Cree Nation’s second and largest investment in National Access. In September, the First Nation invested CA$3 million for a 10% stake in the company.

Opaskwayak Cree Nation joins a growing list of indigenous involvement in the cannabis industry. Among them:

  • Indigenous Roots, a joint venture with Cronos Group, was launched last December to provide medical cannabis to First Nation patients.
  • Wahgoshig First Nation, located 600 kilometers north of Toronto, invested CA$2 million in DelShen Therapeutics as part of an extensive community benefits agreement.
  • The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake, located near Montreal, is currently exploring the possibility of partnering in licensed cannabis production.
  • The Siksika First Nation, 100 kilometers east of Calgary, has applied to Health Canada to become a medical marijuana producer.

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