Canadian producer Canntab Therapeutics Limited (CSE: PILL) (OTCQB: CTABF) (FRA: TBF1) is partnering with the leader of the Shawanaga First Nation and an Indigenous-owned indoor farming company to increase access to medical cannabis in hopes of mitigating the ongoing opiate crisis.
On Monday, Canntab revealed a collaborative project to create an Indigenous Opiate and Illicit Drug Crisis Plan, which will be led by Shawanaga First Nation Chief Adam Pawis.
Through the plan, the company will provide online access to medical cannabis products via a First Nations-specific web portal, serving Indigenous communities both on and off territories.
According to a statement, the partnership’s goal is to provide health and wellness solutions to over 100,000 patients, helping to mitigate opioid use and misuse, as well as other medical issues, with Canntab’s products.
The company says its full suite of oral tablet products — which includes a range of THC and CBD strengths — will be made available online to service “the most remote” First Nations communities and their members, regardless of location.
The crisis plan is being carried out via a deal with First Nations Growers GP Inc., an Indigenous-owned farming company that offers an opiate eradication natural therapy program.
“I am very excited to play a role in the plan as opiates and illicit drugs continue to devastate Indigenous and non-native communities across Canada,” First Nations Growers CEO Dawn Tabobondung says.
The agreement is for an initial one-year term, which provides Canntab with a cash fee of $30,000 for start-up costs, alongside the issuance of one million warrants upon certain milestones. The warrants are exercisable as one common share of the firm, at a price of $0.80 for two years.
Chief Pawis says current opioid-based treatments have proven to be ineffective, while the crisis disrupts other community members and extended families that provide care and support.
“We need to do more to address this crisis, which continues to cause more deaths than the Covid-19 pandemic,” Chief Pawis says in the statement.
“Indigenous mental health issues and conditions that have been caused by elevated trauma relating to the now disclosed history of the 60’s Scoop and residential schools can also be addressed.”
He says the goal is to ensure all First Nations, Inuit and Indigenous communities in Canada have immediate access to cannabinoid-based medicines regardless of how remote communities are.
The Shawanaga First Nation is located around 30 kilometres northwest of Parry Sound, Ontario.
It belongs to the larger Anishnabek Nation which extends across Ontario, east across the Prairies and around the northern shores of all the Great Lakes.
Canntab CEO Larry Latowsky notes the pandemic has limited in-person activities, further isolating First Nation communities, and the plan will bridge the gap by providing improved access.
Indigenous opioid-related deaths have more than doubled during the first year of the pandemic, report says
Indigenous communities have been impacted four-times more than other populations by opioid-related overdoses and deaths due to fentanyl in the illicit drug supply.
In Ontario, opioid-related deaths of Indigenous people more than doubled during the first year of the pandemic, according to a November report released by the Chiefs of Ontario and the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network.
Between March 2020 and March 2021, Indigenous deaths due to opioid poisoning rose by 132 per cent, compared to a 68-per-cent increase in the rest of the population. The largest jump was seen among First Nations people living in rural areas and within Indigenous communities.
According to Statistics Canada, the Covid pandemic has exacerbated an already deadly opioid epidemic. Opioid overdoses have taken the life of 24,626 people across Canada between January 2016 and June 2021.