Nunavut opens up to cannabis-store licence applications

Starting June 1, the territorial government will be accepting applications for both physical and online stores

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They don’t do things quickly in Nunavut, at least as far as cannabis is concerned.

The territory passed its Cannabis Act in June 2018, making it the last of Canada’s provinces and territories to pass cannabis-related legislation. Since then, Nunavut’s residents have had limited options for actually purchasing cannabis products. The territory permits only two companies—Canopy Growth and AgMedica Bioscience—to sell cannabis to residents, and only through online sales.

This week, the territorial government announced that, starting June 1, it will be accepting applications for licences to operate both physical cannabis stores and online stores in Nunavut.

According to a May 19 press release, “Allowing licensed private businesses to import and sell cannabis will give Nunavummiut [Nunavut residents] more access to safer legal recreational cannabis. The licensing regime includes strict rules to combat the illegal market and protect Nunavut’s youth. Nunavut’s cannabis legislation and regulations have a broad range of requirements that licensed cannabis retailers must follow.”

In January, Iqaluit mayor Kenny Bell called on the territorial capital’s city council “to make a recommendation to the Government of Nunavut to make a move on opening a store here”.

Speaking at a city council meeting, Bell said that permitting people to buy cannabis products in a licensed retail store would allow them to avoid the illicit drug trade.

“Illegal sales is a shady business, always has been, always will be,” the mayor said. “We don’t know what’s in the drug. We don’t know where it came from. It could be laced, it could be anything.”

Those wishing to apply for a cannabis retail licence in Nunavut are asked to visit the Department of Finance website for more information.

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