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E114 - One Person Helping His Community with Cannabis


While traveling the Saskatchewan highways, Kirk sees a sign in the ditch directing him to a unique recreational cannabis shop. He takes a hard left to visit a First Nations Reserve looking for a simple short Road Story. Instead, he finds Montana, a caring individual who manages his reserve's recreational cannabis store with a harm reductionists approach.  This simple short Road Story became an entire episode.  Listen to how one individual can help a community with cannabis.

Wednesday, 11 October 2023 13:47

Music By

Aerosmith - Dream On
Desiree Dorion
Marc Clement

(Yes we have a SOCAN membership to use these songs all legal and proper like)

Read 104 times
Published in Episodes, Montana Wapas

Episode Transcript

Trevor: Kirk. We're back.

Kirk: Hey, how's it going there, Trevor.

Trevor: Good. But we are kind of going on the road again. You know, we finished road stories, if people are listening to this in order, but one of your road stories turned quite a bit longer. And as happens in podcasting, a short snippet turns into an episode and we've got an interesting little thing we're going to play with here. We're not going to say where you were. Do you want to sort of tell the people what my mysterious little teaser is about there?

Kirk: Sure, sure. Again, people will know that Michelle and I and our dog Ginny, travel around in a in a van. In a 1985 rally van. We named it Van Hoot because it's a lot of fun to travel in and we're traveling the highways of Saskatchewan and there is a sign in the ditch that says “X” reserve come buy your cannabis here. You know it's a cannabis store on reserve and we are going westward on this highway because we have a purpose to get to this small town and I'm afraid to even name the town because it's because the reserves near the town. So I won't name the town, but we're going to the small town and this small town has a couple 100 people in it. It's tiny little Saskatchewan town and we walk through it and we're looking for a bakery. Because friends of ours that have been through this town before, say “Check out the bakery.” Well the bakery closed like two years ago, so there was no bakery but on our way out of the small town we are going past this ditch sign again. I looked at Michelle and said, you know what, I can't bypass this sign. So we take a hard, a hard left and we're going through dirt roads and we're going through farming country and we're going up and down undulating hills. And it's again, it's beautiful country. And we get on to this reserve. When you get into the reserve, there is a convenience store, a gas station and the cannabis shop. So, I walk into the cannabis shop and I meet the fellow and I introduced myself and he's really nice man. He's just a really kind, gentle soul. As I'm talking to him about the podcast I could see that he was doing a lot of thinking. He was doing a lot of things. I'm looking for a cannabis story, right. I'm looking for a bud tender story for my road trip. And as I'm sitting there, one of his customers comes in. So you know, I step aside, letting him do business. In this store that pretty much deal with prerolls.

Trever: OK.

Kirk: So what he sells is prerolls. And they do all the rolling themselves. As that customer leaves, I say to him, you know it is OK if you don't want to talk. He said no. No, no man, no. Man, no, no, I wanna talk to you, but you know there's politics, you know, and there's stuff, right? And he's fumbling around and I see he's locking doors he's pulling out his cigarette and we walk out to the back of the of the store and we sit down on some picnic tables and we start talking. So, I said can I record any of this? He goes, yeah, why not. So I was there for a good hour while Michelle and Ginny were sitting in the van. And so this is me collecting about 25 minutes of that hour discussion now in the background, you're going to hear a truck and it's

Trevor: I was going to say we hear some trucks and some other. Sort of sounds like big thing noises.

Kirk: There's big thing noises in the background and there's beep, beep beeps going on. Basically, it was a delivery truck delivering into the convenience store. So, you're gonna hear that. So let's just move right into the story and as we come out of this story, I'll explain some of the stuff that we heard.

Trevor: Well, before you do, you want to tell people there will be some beeps.

Kirk: Yes, there will be beeps because we're not identifying the reserve that I was on. And the reason why that happened is, we did the story and then he said, you know, let me phone the managers. So he phoned the managers and the manager said no, don't identify us. And so, we're not, we're out of respect, we're not going to identify the reserve. Now Montana and the other fellow that comes into the story, and we'll wait for that because it's kind of cool. The two people in this story have given me permission to use their names, but we can't use the Reserve Names. So we're going to beep out that. So let's get into the story.

Montana: Hey, this is Montana Wapas. I've been the manager since January 2023. I've done quite a bit and I've seen quite a bit since the store has opened. I've been previously a worker as a labor worker for the "X” cannabis and my time sitting here working here. You know, I've noticed that we have helped a lot of people that are having troubles, with not only addictions, but life, life skills and which ultimately led to addictions. So I have talked to some people, a lot of people come here, a lot of people come here sad. They want to tell their story. You know, this happened, that happened and I sit there, I talk with them, I listen. I hear some stories and they are definitely a lot of people trying to get off meth, crack, and that's just in my reserve. I know what's happening in other reserves. So, something like cannabis for me personally is something to help tackle addictions. I've been helping people by talking with them, I've been cutting people deals. Some people show up here just for $5 joint and you know it's it's not, it's not me to discriminate and say, you know, you're like, I'm here to help. So. So being the manager of the cannabis shop, we just, I've been trying to do my part for the reserve. And yeah, I could definitely see shatter, specifically shatter, helping a lot of a lot of people get off Meth and I'm just trying to get out there trying to get our stuff out there, you know, trying to trying to help people.

Kirk: OK. So just a little background on that. We're on reserve in Saskatchewan. This is a dry reserve for alcohol.

Montana: Yeah, it's a It's a dry reserve. It's been a dry reserve for 10 years now, but you know, a lot of people didn't really stop drinking. You know, the bar is only about 15 minutes away. So the alternative was to, you know, do we do we set up a smoke shop. Smoke shops were being legalized and all that stuff. I honestly think the cannabis shop is the only thing actively fighting meth and drugs.

Kirk: OK, so the the cannabis shop is owned by the reserve.

Montana: Technically not. They did sponsor the bring up, but technically we are our own shop with our own rules and.

Kirk: So you’re your own business.

Montana: Yeah, we do. We do abide by the rules. They do give us the rules and obviously we are governed by Saskatchewan rules, we follow Saskatchewan rules all that stuff. But the business wise, we are our own individual business.

Kirk: OK. And you're saying you buy your raw cannabis, your flower, you buy your flower from other reserves in Canada that grow on reserve?

Montana: Yep, it's the only. It's the only law that we really have to follow is that it has to be growing on reserve land and sold on reserve land. So yes, we do buy a lot of flower from on reserve.

Kirk: So, so whose law is that? Is that just some that the reserve has said that, we'll do.

Montana: I believe it was, uh, it's not by Saskatchewan, but because we are not regulated by the RGC. I believe it's called.

Kirk: OK.

Montana: We are not regulated by them, so technically we can't go with them. I believe that's where that rule comes from.

Kirk: OK, in Saskatchewan, you, cannabis shops are able to buy directly from LP's, right? There is no Saskatchewan clearinghouse. You can buy directly from the from the LC. From the growers.

Montana: Yeah, yeah, you can do that also.

Kirk: So that's what you're doing. You're buying directly from the growers that happen to be reserve growers?

Montana: Yes, exactly we have our own grow op. But that one is protected by the RGC. I mean we can't buy from them even though they are ours that's only because it's not on reserved land.

Kirk: Oh, oh, I see. But as a reserve owns a Grow op, but it's not on the reserve.

Montana: Yeah. So.

Kirk: OK.

Montana: So there goes like a lot of people would think ohh you have your own grow op. How come you don't get from your grow op and it just doesn't work like that from law.

Kirk: OK? And you, you you most people here. Buy pre rolls. Is that what your the majority of your sales are?

Montana: Yeah, a lot of prerolls. Prerolls are huge seller here. I think it's mainly because of the new generation doesn't really know how to roll and there's all these cones. All the older generation they don't want to take up all this time rolling so.

Kirk: OK.

Montana: Lot of prerolls. They go fast.

Kirk: And you were saying that it was the last chief and Council that allowed to have the cannabis shop on reserve and and so you and you're trying as the manager, you're trying to help people use cannabis as an exit drug.

Montana: Yes, I believe cannabis is more of an exit drug than a gateway drug. A lot of people say that cannabis is a gateway drug. Me personally, in my opinion, I think alcohol is a gate drug. Not a lot of people try drugs while they're smoking weed, but they try drugs when they're drinking. I don't think as cannabis as a gateway drug, I think of it as more as an exit drug.

Kirk: You believe that you're providing that service here?

Montana: I believe that I am doing my part in helping out the reserve and trying to get sober. We all strive to feel loved, that home and feel love for ourselves. And that's what I'm trying to provide for the reserve.

Kirk: How long has the store been open?

Montana: That's been open for three years now. Since 2020, I believe.

Kirk: Can you give me any success stories?

Montana: Some success stories.

Kirk:  Have you noticed, you don't have to give names, but have you noticed individuals that have benefited from the use of Cannabas?

Montana: Yeah. Yeah, there's quite a bit of people that have actually helped talk to out of drugs and alcohol. I have a buddy right here that's been struggling with addictions. And, you know, he shows up here every day sober. You know, he shows up here with an honest heart, you know, like and that shows alot, yeah.

Kirk: And he consumes cannabis.

Montana: Yeah, he consumes cannabis as a.

Kirk: Do you want do you want introduce him to what we're doing?

Montana: Yeah, for sure. Tyler, do you want to introduce yourself?

Tyler: I'm Tyler, I guess I like having a cannabis store on the reserve beneficial definitely. For like things that concern mental health and addictions. You know. Back in the day when it is illegal, you know, I used to sell this stuff myself. I thought, I'm pretty sure I was helping a lot of people out, you know. But it wasn't legal. So, I got rated and stuff so. Now like now that it is legal and accessible, I live right there man, you know I can walk over. I have a prescription

Kirk: for cannabis.

Tyler: Yeah. It's like concerning PTSD. And like I was, I was in the maximum security pen for 10 years. You know, when I got out, that helped me. Bring down my anxiety and with sleep, my appetite, it helped me out a lot. And now that I'm like been on the Rez for a while. I've been struggling with my alcohol addictions and some other addictions. But you know, having some support from like a good friend and access to Marijuana, it's really helpful, you know.

Kirk: How does how does marijuana help you? What does it do for you?

Tyler: Well, it's an alternative to other drugs, right? More hard drugs. It personally, it helps me. I prefer indica, it helps slow down my mind and my thinking and my flashbacks. And, you know, had a hard day stressed, you know, stressed out. I'm pretty sure everyone likes to relax with a re roll in their mouth. You know OK, yeah.

Kirk: Cool. So having a cannabis shop on the reserve across the street, pretty helpful for you.

Tyler: Definitely. And like these guys help out. A lot other ways you know. It's not like they just benefit from the community. They you know, they help us out. Personal relationships. Like, you know, like, friendships, things like that. They obviously.

Kirk: Through the store.

Tyler: I recently became pretty close with Montana and developed a pretty good relationship. Almost every day I'm out here talking to the workers. Having some pretty, pretty deep conversations, you know?

Kirk: And you believe cannabis has helped you do that? It's allowed you to maintain that equilibrium, that normal.

Tyler: Yeah, like if you take this cannabis shop out right now. The people that are using cannabis that rely on the positive aspect of it and its benefits, those people are going to go to alternatives. Those people are going to be out smoking meth and drinking alcohol. Having access to something that like this that is legal, you know?

Kirk: How large is this reserve?

Montana: It's I think it I think we have 800 to 1200 people on reserve.

Kirk: Are you comfortable discussing the politics. Like you're saying this current chief and Council may not necessarily be as supportive.

Montana: Yeah, it goes back, like, not just with the Chief and Council, but spiritually, you know, where we come from, a lot of people would say it's mind alternate and we don't need that, but me I like to, I don't like to discriminate other people's views and I know other natives views they use marijuana to help them and they use it in their ceremonies so. Me personally, I think it, you know, a creator left it here for us and if we use it in a negative way, you know, like all negative reactions are going to come out. And if we use it in a positive way, if we use it for like our mental health, our physical stuff like that, you know, it's, you know, it's. That's what it's there for, I. Feel like kind of thing.

Kirk: Right on.

Montana: And just a little side note, we did shut down for about a week and 1/2. And the crazy thing about that is that we had a spike in people going to other drugs and it was it was mainly because the other people that sell weed on the reserve, you know, most like half of it isn't natural. You know, some of them are lacing it and you know, it's easy to go to these guys. And like, since weed's been legalized, the people are selling weed before that, they moved on to heavier drugs. So if you. If say, the store shut down today, all you're going to know is these old drug dealers and these old drug dealers moved on to harder drugs, you know, so the likelihood of you getting a laced drug here is, a lace joint, if you're not buying it at the cannabis store it goes up 50%. Because out here, fentanyl, meth, they're they. They are high. They're high usage out here. Not super super high. Like we're not the highest in Saskatchewan, but you know every reserve has their own issues and that's our issue is meth and fentanyl.

Kirk: Because you guys are a drive-in reserve, it's easily, it's easily obtained, I take it.

Montana: Yeah, yeah, it is very easily obtained. We do. We do try our best as a community to like, oh, say, don't go to this person or, you know, don't trust that person. But at the end of the day, you know, it's we're all so cluttered. We're so easily accessible, mainly our like, we always have, like, some family member that has access to this.

Kirk: Right.

Montana: So it is very easily accessible.

Kirk: Fantastic. Thank you for this. Final words? Is there a question I didn't ask you that you would like to share with our audience?

Montana: I really do. I do hope more reserves take sight of what we're doing because we're not just out here selling weed. You know, a lot of people think we're out here selling weed, but to me, I feel like chief and counsel should be putting more money into this, investing more into this because this is the only place that I see actively fighting meth. You know, like there's people out like there's like, we got a lot of customers and a lot like some of those customers are addicted to drugs, you know, and it's sad to say, we try to help them. We try talk to them as much as we can. Then you know, I think we we are really leaving a good footprint, you know, like at first it felt like, you know, no one was listening. But you know, as time can tell, you know, like the small steps really help you know.

Kirk: Fantastic Montana. Thank you.

Trevor: Kirk, we have Montana. We have Tyler. These are some interesting people with some interesting stories to tell. I honestly, I didn't think Tyler was going to talk to you at the beginning. You know who is this guy talking to my friend and waving a phone near me. That was the impression I was getting from Tyler.

Kirk: Yeah. Yeah. Well, you know, that's exactly what it was. I mean, we're sitting on picnic tables, right. And it's a beautiful building. It's a sort of a circlular building. And we're in the back and you know we're it's a reserve. I've spent a fair bit of my life on reserves and dirt roads and houses and the corner of my eyes and I can see this fella walking down the road. He's picking up garbage and he's sauntering down towards us. And Montana and I were just chatting and Tyler shows up and it was it was almost serendipity. It was just sort of like it was almost like tag team. You know what you can almost hear me say well can you give me an example and he goes Oh yeah. This guy right here.

Trevor: There ‘s Tyler.

Kirk: There's Tyler, right? And he started to talk to me. And I assure everyone that I got permission to use their names.

Trevor: And we'll get back to Montana. But I like Tyler. So, he's a former illegal cannabis dealer. And interestingly, you know in the pharmacy, we talk to everybody. You know, one of the guys I used to play hockey with was a guard in the provincial jail system. And you know the running joke was, you know. We have the same customer base. So, you know I get to talk to people who've done some interesting career choices. I don't think I've ever heard a drug dealer before saying yeah, when I was selling cannabis, man, I think I was really helping people that really caught my attention but yeah, he's talking about, you know now he uses cannabis for PTSD, anxiety, flashbacks and. Obviously, if he was 10 years in, in a maximum security penitentiary, I'm sure all those things are true. I am very impressed and very grateful Montana and Tyler you guys shared these stories with us because they are important stories to hear.

Kirk: Well and it's important to get these stories out there because we're hearing it from people that are living it. You know, I mean, you and I can say this. But yeah, right what do you know? But these are people that are living it. What I found fascinating and again I have spent a very large part of my career working on reserves, I know, intimately the trials and tribulations that are occurring on reserves and what I really liked about this story was that Montana was sharing with me things, that I internally believe in. I truly believe that cannabis will help people on reserves. There is huge substance misuse issues on reserves and when Montana was discussing how you know if you take the cannabis away, the harder stuff comes in. I know that.

Trevor: When the shop was closed for a week.

Kirk: Yeah like I know this, I know this intuitively and from experience, so to have somebody that lives on reserves that works on reserves, that does what he does say that back to me, it's glorious. It's like thank you for sharing that because I can't, you know, I can't say it with the same strength that he can. So, I sat there in that table thinking to myself, this is a good story and I'm so happy we got to tell it because when Montana was talking to his bossesit sounded like we weren't going to be able to tell the story. And I said to Montana, I said, I really want this story, man. This is a good story. People need to hear this. What if we just bleep out your reserve? He said, yeah, do that beep out the reserve and tell the story so you know there is.

Trevor: Yeah, and it wasn't all heavy stuff. I liked a couple points of Comic Relief like, you know? Yeah, we do a lot of pre rolls because you know, kids these days, they don't know how to roll.

Kirk: Yeah, yeah, no, it's a great story. I'm, I'm so I'm so happy to have it.

Trevor: Yeah. No, that was a really good one, like you said. Always look for signs and ditches. Always look for signs in ditches.

Kirk: You know, I love my road stories. I love getting out and this podcast gives me an opportunity to go talk to people and to gain the insights. So yeah, another Road Story. Another good one. Yeah. Any any other things that pop out on this story for you?

Trevor: Yeah. So and I don't know if you know, but they so they sell cannabis that's grown on other reserves exclusively so from one reserve to another. So growing on a reserve sold on a reserve and I wasn't quite sure what this RGC was. I was wondering if that was sort of the Saskatchewan government control, but Idon't know. I'm making stuff up.

Kirk: Yes, yes. Yeah. No, to be honest with you, I didn't research that part of it. And I apologize for that, but what I thought was cool was the economic development. Buying cannabis from reserve. So they're basically putting money back onto the reserve. Great, great story.

Trevor: Yeah. And you know, An economy, an economic link between reserves that I wouldn't have even occurred to me.

Kirk: And that never occurred to me. And really most of these reserves, they need that economy, they need to find ways of bringing money into the reserve and what a great way to do it through cannabis and what a great way to do it medicinally, through a recreational store. And again, I want to reiterate these Road Stories I go on, they always end up being medicinal stories through recreational stores because we know that people are getting their medicinal cannabis from rec stores and that's why I want to tell these stories. And man, you know, the ditch sign, said Kirk Come To the Reserve.

Trevor: Kirk, the ditch sign was waving. Kirk.

Kirk: Yes, come. So this is, this is probably one of my favorite stories. I really like this story and I'm like I said, I'm beaming. Like, thank God, we got to tell it.

Trevor: Yeah. No, that was a really good one. So, as we are doing now at the end of everything, I'm I'm Trevor Shewfelt. I'm the pharmacist.

Kirk: And I'm Kirk Nyquist I am the Registered Nurse and we are Reefer Medness - ThePodcast found at and all that social media. Please, if you like us tell somebody and get them to listen to us. If you have a story, get a hold of us This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We are really interested in cannabis stories. Tell us yours. We'll get you online. If you want to sponsor a podcast. You know

Trevor: I know a Podcast you can sponsor

Kirk: Yeah. Yeah, you can sponsor a podcast and help us help us put this on the on the road again. That's another good one. And he gave us a song

Trevor: He gave us a song.

Kirk: So let's go off and let's go off in the van Hoot and go for a drive.