Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut February 08, 2018 - 2:30 pm

GN floats ideas for legalizing pot in Nunavut

“It is time to check back and ask Nunavummiut what they think about this plan”

The Government of Nunavut has set out some of its main ideas for how to regulate legalized marijuana in a 10-page report. (PHOTO BY BRIAN SHAMBLEN/FLICKR CC-BY 2.0)
The Government of Nunavut has set out some of its main ideas for how to regulate legalized marijuana in a 10-page report. (PHOTO BY BRIAN SHAMBLEN/FLICKR CC-BY 2.0)

Without any fanfare or formal announcement, the Government of Nunavut has released details about its proposed approach to regulating legalized marijuana.

“It is time to check back and ask Nunavummiut what they think about this plan,” states the 10-page discussion paper, which presents “ideas for consideration and discussion” at a round of territory-wide public meetings currently underway.

These consultations will guide the Nunavut government as it crafts legislation to put in place before July 2018, when the federal government is expected to legalize marijuana.

The territorial government’s proposal is informed, in part, by the results of a survey conducted this past autumn. It found that three-quarters of respondents supported legalization.

Nunavut’s proposal begins by noting that cannabis consumption, while illegal, is extremely popular in Nunavut.

One-quarter of Nunavut residents aged 12 and up report using marijuana at least once a week over the previous year, according to Statistics Canada’s 2014-16 Canadian Community Health Survey. One in 10 reported using every day.

“As cannabis is in our communities already, the GN is implementing legislation to legalize cannabis as a way to help reduce harm,” the report states.

As things stand, residents depend on unregulated sources to purchase their cannabis, “which can be mixed with unknown and dangerous substances and can be of unknown or inconsistent strength,” the report notes.

Legalization could also ease pressure on Nunavut’s court system, and “help Nunavummiut avoid criminal convictions, which has positive impacts for future employment opportunities.”

Legalized cannabis could also lower prices, “leaving more income in the hands of families.”

And revenues raised from legalized cannabis could “contribute to public programs and legitimate businesses rather than underground markets and organized crime.”

Under the Nunavut government’s proposal, the minimum age for possessing and consuming cannabis would be 19. Under federal rules, that age must at least be 18.

The Canadian Medical Association and the Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health both recommend setting the minimum age at 21 or 25.

But the government’s report cautions that, if the minimum age is too high, “young adults could be driven to buy cannabis illegally,” and since you cannot be certain of the strength of illegal cannabis or what it’s been cut with, this creates additional risks.

Nunavut is proposing to stick to the federal limit for personal possession, at 30 grams of dried cannabis.

It’s unclear whether the territorial government plans to similarly align itself with federal rules for possession of cannabis at home and youth possession of cannabis.

But the report says most survey respondents supported harmonizing with federal laws on these issues.

Federal rules impose no limit on how much cannabis you can possess at home.

While youth are not allowed to possess or use cannabis, federal rules would allow those under 18 to carry up to five grams without facing criminal charges. The government is asking residents whether territorial rules should be stricter.

Federal rules allow individuals to grow four cannabis plants per household. The upside of this approach, the territorial report states, is that it could reduce dependence on illegal sources.

The downside is that it risks “normalizing cannabis with youth,” and increasing the risks of fires and the spread of mold in homes.

The territorial government says it will consider allowing landlords to restrict renters from growing and using recreational cannabis.

The government proposes banning smoking or vaping cannabis where tobacco use is banned, and in certain other areas, including vehicles, school grounds, hospitals, health centre grounds, and playgrounds.

Municipalities would be able to restrict cannabis use in certain spaces. Before the Government of Nunavut opens a physical store, it would first consult with the community and seek support from the local council.

Nunavut would not allow communities to ban the consumption of cannabis, as is currently done with “dry” communities that forbid alcohol.

But the territory is looking at allowing councils to ask for temporary bans on cannabis sales during holidays or community events.

“This approach flows from the idea that prohibition does not work, is difficult to enforce, encourages and supports an illegal market, and may actually be worse for Nunavummiut,” the report states.

Nunavut is not planning to allow cafés or lounges where cannabis could be consumed on site. “Given the complexities of these establishments and the short timelines the GN is facing ahead of July 2018, setting up a licensing system for on-site consumption is not a priority,” the report states.

But such venues have their merits, the paper states, as they “allow safe indoor spaces where adults can consume cannabis outside the home, away from children and youth.”

Licensing such establishments is something the territory “may wish to explore in the future,” the report states.

The regulation of edible cannabis products is also being put off for now. Federal legislation proposes a one-year delay in allowing these products so that provinces and territories have time to develop regulations.

“The GN proposes to wait until other Canadian governments have set out their plans before deciding how to best manage these products in Nunavut,” the report states.

The territorial government is working with the Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission to review workplace safety rules to ensure they deal with cannabis legalization. The commission is also preparing educational materials on the subject, “so that employers and workers understand their rights and obligations under the regulations.”

The GN plans to create new offences and administrative penalties to discourage driving while impaired by cannabis. That would include licence suspensions for drivers who fail roadside drug tests or who refuse to take the test.

Penalties would increase for repeat offenders. The territory also plans to launch a public education campaign about how cannabis can impair the judgement and reflexes of drivers.

Cannabis sales would be overseen by the Nunavut Liquor Commission. This follows the lead of other Canadian jurisdictions that plan to distribute cannabis through their existing liquor organizations.

But Nunavut’s proposal would allow the government to outsource sales operations to private companies.  These agents “would be subject to strict oversight and would need to follow terms and conditions the government sets,” the report states.

This means the government “would control the type of cannabis sold, product price, reporting, sales location, and messaging,” while taking advantage of outside “knowledge, skills, experience and flexibility” the territorial government lacks.

The GN envisions cannabis to eventually be sold both online and through physical stores, but no physical location is planned to open in 2018.

The government is considering whether to allow residents to purchase and import cannabis from outside the territory. “This could be by allowing individuals to carry cannabis with them when they enter Nunavut,” the report states.

“This could also be similar to the permit system already in place for liquor, where Nunavummiut are able to request, for a fee, the authority to import liquor from other jurisdictions.”

The government proposes allowing the minister to regulate importation, “but plans to wait to see how other jurisdictions deal with this matter before making specific decisions.”

The next public meetings on cannabis legalization take place in Kugluktuk on Feb. 9, in Iqaluit on Feb. 13, in Kimmirut on Feb. 15, in Igloolik on Feb. 20 and in Arctic Bay on Feb. 21.

You can find more details about the Government of Nunavut’s plans to prepare for the legalization of cannabis here and in the document embedded below.

You can email comments about regulating cannabis to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  Regulating Cannabis in Nunavut by NunatsiaqNews on Scribd


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(28) Comments:

#1. Posted by Mary Jane on February 08, 2018

I thought that people would purchase the marijuana from community
stores, the same as cigarettes or snuff.
Would that not be the best way?

#2. Posted by The future is now on February 08, 2018

Grows some damn nerve and some brains and seize this opportunity to grow some revenue for Nunavut. Cannabis is already here, capitalize on it, the rest of the country will be. This is a great opportunity for local entrepreneurs. Hand out some dispensary licenses in the communities. Or do you want everyone to be dependant on government jobs and handouts ad infinitum?

#3. Posted by The Dankest on February 08, 2018

#1 Snuff but made from marijuana is a great idea! Healthier too!

#4. Posted by It's even worse than your worst case scenario on February 08, 2018

The GN’s “harm reduction” in this is pretty weak. As long as the $:THC ratio drops (in other words it gets cheaper to get high) you’re going to have more consumption. Retail outlets alone will probably guarantee it.

More consumption is going to mean more psychosis, more cannabis-induced lethargy. Do we really have a sense of the true impact of cannabis overuse in Nunavut? Stoned and chronically stoned people fly under the radar compared to drunk people, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t serious health and social consequences to regular consumption of cannabis.

The beer and wine store idea at least encouraged people to consume less potent intoxicants. This is probably just going to open the sluices.

#5. Posted by Piitaqanngi on February 08, 2018

#2 Spot on. Southern entrepreneurs will be making big bucks if Government is slow to allow locals to sell cannabis. Local grow ops would provide more economic opportunity. The sooner the Government of Nunavut starts giving out licences for local cannabis producers the better. Southern producers will most definitely capitalize on the revenues to be had. Nunavummiut will probably be too late to get into the game by then.

#6. Posted by Secret on February 08, 2018

We should allow it to be sold everywhere.  Stores, gov’t depot, home entrepreneurs.  Last thing we want is some US company to try and steal all the profit to be made in the north.  We should have the money stay in the north.  All those people who currently sell it illegally should have a chance to become legal and successful.  If they don’t abide by the terms of the license(eg.tracking numbers, and paying taxes), pull the license. Some families sell for a living.  They’d have nothing if they are restricted.

#7. Posted by Paul Murphy on February 08, 2018

25% of residents reported smoking this crap at least once a week over the past year.  The age limit is proposed to be 19 to buy and possess this crap. No sense making it 21 as suggested by all the professionals, because it would drive the younger users to buy the illegal stuff. So 25% of the children 12 to 18 will continue to buy from the dealers (or their friends and families) on the corner.  What is wrong with this picture??

#8. Posted by Leadership, Anyone? on February 08, 2018

Time to read about the Opium Wars between Great Britain and China. 

Basically, Great Britain used opium (through middle-men) to weaken Chinese society and then sent in gun-boats to force the Unequal Treaties that led to the destruction of the Chinese Empire.

China has 5000 years of history as a nation.  It understands winning before firing the first shot.  It understands “taking the long view”.

In 1945 Canada was the third largest industrial power in the world, while China was destitute, agricultural, and in the midst of a civil war after having been over-run & looted by the Japanese Empire.

Today most of China’s senior politicians are Engineers, while many of Canada’s are Lawyers.

Nunavut has its second Law School.  When will it have its first Engineering School?

When will Nunavummiut feel they have better things to do with their lives than trying to escape into a drugged haze?

When will Nunavut’s leaders help them to feel that way? What more urgent matter do they have?

#9. Posted by Unlicensed on February 09, 2018

Poster Secret - “some families sell for a living?”  But once it’s legalized they will not want to keep getting ripped off by local, unlicensed dealer.  They’ll have somewhere more reliable to go to - the dispensary!

#10. Posted by Secret on February 09, 2018

They will be licensed after it’s legal.  They’d have to abide by the license.  So, people can go to any other outlet/dispensary if they want, with an option to go to a household dispensary as well.  The prices were fixed back in the day due to the repercussions of being caught.  The prices only recently went down because everybody was able to order it in from online dispensaries. I’d hate for Northmart and coop trying to take sales profits across the border out of the community, cutting out local people.  Time to include the local dealers into society.

#11. Posted by Unlicensed on February 09, 2018

Good Point, this will be good for our economy.  Hey $20/gram in Iqaluit - good deal by Nunavut’s standard.  Hopefully, a gram goes down to $10 after Canada Day!


#12. Posted by Paul Murphy on February 09, 2018

Am I the ONLY one in this string concerned about the children. Seems that posters are more concerned about the dealers and how this will affect their economic return.

#13. Posted by Kitikmeot Gal on February 09, 2018

#12 Where the heck were you when Alcohol was introduced to us, where do you stand against parents who drink and lose custody of their children?
Where do you stand against ugly drunks who are violent towards their partners or even to minors who see stuff they should not even see?
Don’t give me this holier than thou crap.
Yes Weed is coming to Nunavut and the Politicians have no clue how they are going to handle it.
Private entrepreneurs should submit how they would be able to distribute weed in Nunavut, and I do-not-want-to-go-to my neighbor who is selling weed cause my stuff is going to take forever to come in the mail. MOST IMPORTANTLY, DONT LET THE NORTHERN STORES INC END UP SELLING WEED TO NUNAVUTMIUT!!!

#14. Posted by iRoll on February 09, 2018

“Will some one PLEAAASEEE think of the children…!”

One of the lamest arguments ever.

One of the main premises of legalization is that it will reduce access to minors. There are steep penalties attached to selling to kids.

Get real.

#15. Posted by Paul Murphy on February 09, 2018

Where was I ( Paul Murphy not # 12) when alcohol was introduced to you? I know I may be old in some people’s minds, however I suspect I wasn’t even born at the time. Where were you Kitikmeot Girl (another anonymous person who is afraid to identify themselves) when you were introduced to it? Anyone who knows me knows where I stand when it comes to bootleggers, dealers and people who abuse others while drunk.
Having said that I will assure you I have issues with the abuse of alcohol as well, but the discussion raised by the GN is how we feel about the legalization of marijuana not alcohol.

If being concerned about our children who are using marijuana and the apparent lack of concern for them in this discussion makes me “holier than thou” so be it.

I suggest you read the discussion paper and if possible attend any of the consultations meetings and perhaps you will be able to understand my concern.

#16. Posted by Observer on February 09, 2018

Oddly enough, despite the fact children in Nunavut are seriously injured while riding ATVs and snowmobiles, die due to firearms, get improper nutrition and the resulting health problems due to junk food, and are sometimes hit by trucks, no one is seriously suggesting that the proper response to this is banning all ATVs, snowmobiles, firearms, junk food, and trucks.

They instead insist on measures to try and reduce the risk to children through safer use, and penalizing people responsible for putting children at risk, and educating children themselves.

#17. Posted by EX. Cops Co-opting on February 09, 2018

Ex. Cops and the self righteous are seeing BIG dollar figures and want to be in it.  Make sure the little have a reasonable chance of being in this business. 
Local persons ownerships come to mind.  So many Nunavummiut are fed up of the land claims going to outsiders and their companies.

#18. Posted by iThink Pt. 1 on February 10, 2018

#7 & 15 I think your argument has some holes in it.

You say that “25% of… children [from] 12 to 18 will continue to buy from dealers”...

Interesting prospect, but even if it were true legalization will not have created the situation where this might be either possible or true.

Remember, the legalization regime is premised on keeping cannabis out of the hands of kids, and as freely into the hands of us ‘age appropriate’ users as can be (consequently, de-legitimizing the illegitimate market).

In your opinion nothing will change. Here’s where I think you miss; where a legitimate market for adult users is created, new norms will also be created, in this brave new world supplying to under age individuals while come at a prohibitive economic and social cost. It already comes at a heavy social cost… only now that will be attached to the power of influence yielded by the state.

That’s significant.

Yet you ask “what is wrong with this picture?”

#19. Posted by iThink Pt. 2 on February 10, 2018

To me this is a creative and progressive attempt to regulate a market you suggest may be harming kids. I think it will produce positive results. But you don’t seem to agree. So please tell me, what is wrong with this approach to you?

#20. Posted by Fake Plastic Tree on February 10, 2018

#17 It’s understandable that Nunavummiut would be frustrated at seeing opportunities capitalized on by ‘outsiders’. The reality is, the system is set up to favour you. Nunavummiut need to step up and learn the skills necessary, and take the same risks those outsiders do.

I agree that we are seeing a great opportunity here for local entrepreneurs. I hope the government see’s the same.

#21. Posted by Paul Murphy on February 10, 2018

Please lets get my concern straight.
One I don’t care where adults buy their dope.
Two I don’t care who the legal distributers are.
Three I don’t care if adults want to damage themselves over drugs.
What I do care about are those children (12 and over) identified by Stats Canada as part of the 25% of the Nunavut population who have used marijuana every week during the year of their review.
There is nothing in the discussion paper other than a cursory comment about legislation.  If the current legislation is not preventing these kids access and usage, what will new legislation do.
I believe without real enforcement nothing will change for these children. They will still get their stuff from the dealers or their parents/friends,

#22. Posted by iThink on February 10, 2018

#21 So what you have confessed is that you don’t really know what the legalization regime is going to look like, but you are concerned it won’t address the issue of underage cannabis use? 


Here’s a copy of Bill C-45 for your reference, you will note that it is highly focused on restricting access to minors:

#23. Posted by Paul Murphy on February 10, 2018

Thanks for that iThink.
Unfortunately I am still of the opinion that if you aren’t enforcing the law now vis a vis the children, how is it going to change today?  I don’t see the discussion paper addressing that.
How did you see the meeting go last night?

#24. Posted by Rhetoric versus logic on February 10, 2018

The commenter #19, #21, ad infinitum, is correct when they say that bill C-45 contains harsh penalties for those convicted of supplying weed to underage teens.

But there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that this provision was added for show, for political reasons, to keep moderate small “c” conservatives who voted Liberal in the last election from peeling away and voting Conservative again. It was also added to retain the support of certain immigrant communities who vote Liberal but whose members tend to hold conservative views on social issues.

This is why the Liberal government constantly brags that the intent of the law is to reduce cannabis use among teens. However, this is total nonsense, empty political rhetoric, and I’m sure even the Liberal leadership knows this.

Let’s say the legal age is 19. It’s highly probable that 19 and 20 year olds who buy less expensive legal weed will automatically start sharing it illegally with their 16, 17 and 18 year old friends and family members. They already do this with illegal weed and there is no reason to believe this practice will change when they acquire legal weed.

Logically, the most probable outcome is that cannabis use among teens will either a) remain at about the same level or b) increase by some unknown increment that we can’t measure until after the law comes into effect.

The least likely outcome is that cannabis use among teens will decrease, especially in Nunavut, where sharing (of food, money, liquor and everything else) is still a strong social norm.

#25. Posted by Rhetoric versus logic on February 10, 2018

Also, #19 and #21, we need to consider what the consequences will be if Bill C-45 passes as is and the RCMP start strict enforcement against those who illegally supply underage people with legally obtained cannabis.

In Nunavut this could send even more young Nunavut adults into our already overburdened court and corrections system, especially for those who are prosecuted under C-45 by indictment.

The result will be more young Indigenous Nunavut citizens becoming incarcerated, which is an outcome nobody wants.

Our current legislation does not deter cannabis use among teens and the new law will not deter it either.

If the Liberals were really serious about decriminalizing marijuana they would have decriminalized it completely and left up to the territories and provinces to regulate possession and distribution, as they do now with alcohol.

Instead, they have given us a really bad piece of legislation that will create more Indigenous criminal offenders.

All for the sake of a cheap political talking point.

#26. Posted by Paul Murphy on February 10, 2018

I obviously could not explain it better than Rhetoric vs logic. Thank you.

#27. Posted by Caledon on February 11, 2018

Very interesting comments people!!
I think it will come down, like most habits in Nunavut, to non-users,
moderate users, and the over users who will indulge regardless of
People don’t change.

#28. Posted by Secret on February 11, 2018

People change.  Change minds! Change feelings, change beliefs, change friends, change their moral code…  Dropped at the first sign of trouble.

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