Although we agree that the minimum age for the purchase, consumption and possession of cannabis should be set at 19 years and we agree that the NWT possession limit should match the federal possession limit at 30 grams – the proposed distribution and retail model is a flawed short-term strategy that undermines competition.
The report acknowledges that entrepreneurs are interested in the business opportunities related to cannabis, but using the Liquor Commission as the sole distributor and limiting the retail opportunities to already established liquor stores unfairly restricts who can pursue these opportunities. The report states that the proposed legislation won’t prevent the future sale of cannabis in “cannabis only” stores and that the GNWT is open to exploring options for the future sales of cannabis, but if the GNWT intends to open the market up to entrepreneurs, they should have a firm timeline for doing so. “Maybe later” is not clear enough for business planning purposes.
We were also disappointed that consumption at retail outlets or in designated establishments will not be permitted. Regulated indoor spaces where adults can consume cannabis are common in other jurisdictions where recreational use is permitted, and can provide additional economic opportunities for our community. We recommend a system that gives individuals the option to consume cannabis at regulated, adults-only cafés.
We are confident that the GNWT, working together with entrepreneurs and local governments, can create a thriving and responsible craft cannabis sector that prioritizes health and safety throughout the Northwest Territories, but we urge the territorial government to ensure there is a level playing field for businesses.
Download our letter to Minister Sebert and Members of the 18th Legislative Assembly here.
Response from the Government of the NWT:
Download the response we received from Minister of Justice, Louis Sebert here.