New Brunswick says it is unable to enforce its provincial cannabis laws on First Nations land, while other provinces take a different stance.

The new comments come following proposed changes to the province’s Cannabis Act and stand in contrast to statements and actions taken by other provincial governments.

The province’s Public Safety Minister, Kris Austin, reportedly told media recently that there is nothing the province can do to enforce its provincial cannabis rules on businesses operating on First Nations reserves. She instead argues the issue is up to the federal government to enforce.

The comments from Austin came following the introduction of new legislation in New Brunswick meant to give officers from the Department of Justice and Public Safety (JPS) more power to deter illicit stores in the province.

The provincial government recently introduced Bill 29which will, if passed, create amendments to its Cannabis Control Act with the goal of increasing compliance with provincial rules, reducing the sale of illegal cannabis, and preventing young people from consuming the drug.

As reported by the Telegraph-Journal, Austin said: “you can’t seize property on First Nations reserves … unless you’re talking about a property that would be involved in violent crime.”

“Our understanding is when it comes to cannabis … that we’re not able to do that.”

The Telegraph-Journal went on to report that Austin made similar statements about jurisdiction in 2023, passing the buck to the federal government.

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New Brunswick says it can’t enforce its cannabis laws on First Nations reserves

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