Last month, Tupa’s Joint, an Indigenous cannabis dispensary in Vernon, B.C., was raided by members of the province’s Community Safety Unit.
Tupa’s Joint does not have a provincial licence to sell cannabis, but the shop was opened with support from the Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB), which passed its own regulations — the OKIB Cannabis Control Law.
“Our cannabis law [OKIB Cannabis Control Law] supersedes the provincial law. We’re federal, and we’re sovereign, so how we’re going about it is different than anybody else,” shop owner Cory Brewer told APTN after the raid, which resulted in a loss of $10,000 worth of product.
But the shop has reopened since, and is now experiencing a surge in visitors, APTN reports, and in some cases shoppers are leaving with more than just cannabis.
The shop has become a site to learn not only about the therapeutic potential of the products it carries, but also the story and history of the people that run it, Jessica Jones, a Secwépemc Nation member and shop employee, told APTN.
“We had a younger guy come in who is so interested in what we’re doing, he even wants to sit down with an Elder and learn more about our culture,” Jones says. “[He said,] ‘How will we ever break this [cycle of racism] if people don’t want to come out and learn about the original people of this land?’”
Jones says two to three people have been coming by each week to learn more about the shop’s history and the Syilx Peoples.
Brewer, who currently runs three dispensaries, told APTN that plans to open an in-house culture and wellness centre, which would include Nsyilxcen language lessons, along with cultural programs and cannabis cooking classes, are in the works.
The June raid was the second raid the shop has