Nunavut prepares to permit physical cannabis stores

Applications for cannabis retail licences will be accepted, starting June 1

On June 1, the Government of Nunavut will begin accepting applications for cannabis retail licences, which would allow businesses in the territory to sell cannabis either in stores or by shipping to customers. Currently, the territorial government only allows two cannabis suppliers outside the territory to sell to residents online. (Photo courtesy of Cannabis Tours/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0)

By Nunatsiaq News

The Government of Nunavut is preparing to allow businesses within the territory to sell recreational cannabis.

Starting June 1, the GN will begin accepting applications for cannabis retail licence applications to operate physical cannabis stores and online stores in Nunavut.

“Allowing licensed private businesses to import and sell cannabis will give Nunavummiut more access to safer legal recreational cannabis,” the government said in a news release on Tuesday, May 19.

“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.”

Currently, Nunavut only permits two companies—Canopy Growth and AgMedica Bioscience—to sell cannabis to residents through online sales.

When Nunavut passed its cannabis legislation, officials decided to take a gradual approach to legalization and not immediately allow physical stores to open.

Nunavut’s cannabis laws also require community consultation before any kind of local licence can be approved.

Iqaluit’s mayor, Kenny Bell, recently called for the Government of Nunavut to allow a cannabis retail store to open in the territory’s capital.

Nunavut will allow several kinds of cannabis retail operations. It is offering two kinds of licences: physical cannabis stores and remote sales.

Nunavut’s licensing system envisions two different kinds of physical stores selling cannabis, according to a government fact sheet.

“Enclosed cannabis stores” are standalone buildings or stores within an existing commercial space, with walls and a door to prevent the entry of minors. Employees in these stores will be allowed to show customers “sensory display items”—small jars of cannabis for customers to see and smell—and to discuss product information.

Nunavut will also allow for “integrated cannabis stores” within existing retail stores, which will be accessed by residents through a window, kiosk or check-out counter. All cannabis products and accessories must be kept locked and out of sight at these locations. Staff may only sell products from a price list, once a customer has shown proof they are over 19. These stores are prohibited from using any advertising or promotional materials under federal law.

Remote sales licences allow businesses within the territory to sell cannabis online or over the phone and ship orders to any Nunavut community. Cannabis stores will be able to hold more than one kind of licence, so a physical store may also be able to sell cannabis remotely.

A community consultation process will happen once a licence application clears an initial review to show whether the eligibility requirements have been met, according to the government fact sheet.

“Local municipal councils will be asked to provide input and community members will also have the opportunity to provide feedback. Information will be posted throughout the community, and community radio and social media will be used to inform Nunavummiut that an application to open a cannabis store in their community has been received. Feedback can be sent to the Office of the Superintendent by email, phone, mail or through local Government Liaison Officers (GLOs).

“All consultation feedback will be compiled into a report and will be considered by the Minister before making a decision on whether or not to issue a licence. Communities will also be able to provide further restrictions through zoning bylaws and business licensing.”

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(19) Comments:

  1. Posted by John K on

    This is great news. I hope they implement this without instituting undue hurdles and obstacles for retailers and customers.

  2. Posted by CBD for me on

    Very good news, I hope this creates some career opportunities for local entrepreneurs and doesn’t just become part of the Northern Store pharmacy or something like that. Thanks to the government for finally moving in this direction.

  3. Posted by Brian Aglukark on

    We have through the generations made our youth priority. There was a time when Elders who become too weak give up their lives to ensure the Young had a better chance to survive in time of great need. Many involved in the creation of this territory, and in the current political system witnessed or heard of these stories first hand -an Elder giving up its life for Youth.

    In the same way, while the Nunavut government is contemplating issuing
    licenses for the sale of this “crap”, our current leaders need to keep in mind our youth, and hold our youth to its highest esteem ensuring they minimize the negative impact to the youth mental stability. They are our territory’s future.

    The members of parliament should fully understand what kind of impact this move will have on our youth. It is not just a simple decision of who or what can sale marijuana. Selling of marijuana should be considered similarly as selling alcohol in the least. We shouldn’t expect to see our youth be in the same environment-vicinity as while this crap is sold (namely local grocery stores). The members should be educated on current research of negative effects to family and children…learn more about the drug and at least have that knowledge of what this change can do to its children -the territories future. The health department should have all of this information and required expertise on hand to educate them. This move seriously isn’t just a choice of A-B-C or D. It’s negative implications are just too high.

    We all agree that this crap is becoming easily available around our youth and most of them are basically carrying the thought that it is not dangerous-but it is. And this is were we are failing our youth, this government should first educate the public on the dangers of the drug and its immense negative effect on youth before making it easily available to the residents.

    • Posted by John K on

      I’m certainly not interested in debating your moral qualms and your opinion of cannabis. I will point out though that ending the prohibition of a substance and instituting realistic and enforceable barriers has almost universally made such substances harder to access. Tobacco’s non intoxicating nature has afforded it room to be an exception.

      It states clearly in the article that stand alone stores will not allow minors and if sold at a grocery store will be inaccessible and mostly unadvertised. Though having said that I’m sedly confident that most opponents of this will lean on whatever they can and not budge in the face of reality.

      • Posted by Brian Aglukark on

        The issue is not “opposed” to the idea of selling marijuana or that it is a legal product. The issue/concern is (children and) youth aware that their grocery stores are selling the crap. Let’s be clear, a majority of youth do not use marijuana- some are even trying to run from homes where siblings and or parents use the product. Regardless of whether or not it’s accessible, visible or advertised. Youth quickly learn and will definitely be aware overtime the product is being sold in a particular location. Legal or not, this product has negative effects and impacts the youth and family with possible long term implications. You are clearly not aware or haven’t heard of some of the effects it currently has on elders, marriages, youth and children, and, those desperately looking for funds to purchase the product. The stories are horrendous.
        What kind of message is the government sending to the youth that do not use the crap, or to the youth that are running form home affected by the crap and making it available in grocery stores?
        Having this product commercially available were children and youth safely buy groceries sends the wrong message. It’s a gun to heads of the “cream of the crop”.

        • Posted by John K on

          Like I said; bias will win out against reality. It won’t matter that what you’re suggesting has not played out that way anywhere. Post-fact society.

          • Posted by Brian Aglukark on

            If you are suggesting that elders haven’t been beaten by grand children-relatives-adult children attempting to take their old age pensions to purchase drugs illegally. Or, male spouses beating up their partner’s child tax credits leaving the children hungry- no winter clothing so (he) can purchase drugs illegally-you’re absent from the reality of what’s happening in communities of Nunavut. This plays out in every community each time those payments are issued. It is the sad truth.
            Get this picture in your minds eye- a person who just viciously violated an elder or spouse walking into a grocery store with stolen money, kids in hand to purchase drugs? Don’t you agree that child or youth’s mental stability will be affected?

            • Posted by The Old Trapper on

              Brian, what responsibility do the “grand children-relatives-adult children” of the elders have for beating up the elders and taking their cheques? Maybe we need to take a close look at how people are raising their children if they are going around beating up elders?
              These people have no excuse. Cannabis is not physically addictive, so it’s not like the people are going through withdrawal. They are making a clear choice to rob an elder. It should be reported and dealt with by the proper authorities and the legal system.

              • Posted by Addictive on

                I have seen, first hand, the rage that a heavy user will get into when faced with the prospect of having no dope.
                I am a toker, all for legal cannabis, but I have witnessed the negative effects. It’s naive to think that some aren’t addicted.

            • Posted by J.Stewart on

              Legal marijuana is less expensive than bootleg. After the millions of dollars that left the north under the “old crap” system, now people will spend less on it, have money for their families, maybe stop ordering that sickening tobacco and alcohol, and pay taxes for substance control programs.

    • Posted by Do Your Homework on


      Without sticking to and providing the facts around Cannabis, you’re just another person with an opinion! And we all can tell which slant that angle is!

      Fact: Youth already access cannabis (and other drugs & alcohol) via the black market. Youth, including yourself when you were a youth, have had access for years and years. If you chose to not use anything, that’s your choice and your free to make it. HOWEVER, it’s not your right to try to influence others without facts to back your opinion as legit, and instead continued to use the tired old War-on-Drugs propaganda.

      Fact: If Cannabis is legal and controlled, and taxed, then society has more options on exercising more control over a plant that has never killed anyone, nor overdosed on. The War-on-Drugs of the past 50 years has not and will not solve anything, except give politicians and police excuses to spends $billions on enforcement, with ordinary people getting criminal records for smoking a plant!

      Fact: The properties of Cannabis and Hemp (THC & CBD) have many scientific, health and industrial uses and benefits. And now that it’s legal, more and more research and clinical trials, etc can now be done under strict regulatory and quality standards monitored by Health Canada.

      Fact: Cannabis can be an economical booster in an economically depressed area such as Nunavut. Opening store fronts will combat and make a dent in the black market of pushers and dealers and add some tax revenues for the GN. Money might not grow on trees, but neither does government revenue streams! Cannabis (and Hemp) can be a solution.

      Fact: Legal Cannabis produced by authorized Health Canada Licensed Producers is guaranteed to be safer than the black market products. Cannabis products are tested and inspected during the entire process from seed to finished product. Billy at Northmart can’t even tell you, because he has no clue, what he’s selling you. Illegal Cannabis can be laced with almost anything.

      Brian, you’re a good guy and you mean well, but please, DO your research! Calling the Cannabis plant evil, which has grown naturally all around the planet for thousands of years, doesn’t give you any credibility when discussing the topic and it’s uses and effects on youth or adults.

      Seriously, the devastation alcohol has had on the communities throughout Nunavut, and the dire actions of what people do on alcohol, cannot compare to what people do when they consume Cannabis. Dude, if getting high and chilling out, listening to music and maybe attacking a bag of chips because they have the munchies is evil, then there’s simply no comparison!

      • Posted by Uvaali on

        There are families that should never take this drug due to long term adverse reaction to it. There are people here who are now altered and experience psychosis.

        • Posted by Evidence Please on

          I would really like to see some evidence for your claim that cannabis use causes permanent psychosis? This sounds more like reefer madness than a serious claim.

        • Posted by Tired of the Same Old Crap on

          Yup, and they had better develop a sense personal responsibility and maturity and not use it if they can’t deal.

          Stop trying to apologize for the personal weakness and indiscipline that is so common in our society.

          I won’t suffer because segments of society can’t control themselves.

  4. Posted by Brian Aglukark on

    If this government under the direction of the sitting MLA’s select the local northern stores or co-ops to sell marijuana- they are basically responsible for putting a noose around the children and youth of Nunavut. Clearly showing their priority is pennies over the mental health of our future.

    • Posted by John K on

      How dramatic. The pearl clutching resistance to reality is why prohibitionists can’t be reasoned with.

    • Posted by Same Nunavut? on

      Do you live in the same Nunavut that I do?

      The territory is awash in booze and weed.

      If it becomes legal, nothing will change, except that we know where the kids are buying it, where it came from, and its strength and how it was packaged, etc.

      We know none of that now, and will at least have some idea of consumption habits.

  5. Posted by No comments? on

    Interesting discussion here. Always curious to see how difficult it is for a mind trapped in rigid dogmatism to negotiate a changed world.

    On another note, it would be nice if Nunatsiaq could explain to its readers why the comments on some of its more recent articles have been closed off? Was hoping to have some interesting discussions on those topics as well.

  6. Posted by Sam on

    If you live anywhere in NUnavut you know. Where the drug dealers are and the bootleggers,and these people are usually flaunting their wealth.and the so called upper class citizens turn a blind eye. Drugs have been here for decades.and the RCMP do a bust once a year for show

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