Northwest Territories


Retailers pursue cannabis sales in Inuvik, Hay River, Norman Wells

cannabis plant

Private cannabis stores may soon be coming to Inuvik, Norman Wells, and Hay River – but not Fort Simpson and Fort Smith.

A cannabis plant grows in a Yellowknife greenhouse in the summer of 2020. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio

Requests for qualifications, which allow potential vendors to pre-qualify for the process by which the NWT government selects a store operator, closed for the five communities between December and February.

Around the same time, two private retail cannabis stores were given permission by the territorial government to operate in Yellowknife.

No businesses applied to operate a store in Fort Simpson or Fort Smith.


N.W.T.'s first private pot stores get green light from government

The Northwest Territories' first private retailers of cannabis will open their doors soon, after the government announced final approval in a press release Tuesday morning.

Two stores, ReLeaf NT and Trailblazers Cannabis Shop, were named in the release.


ReLeaf has been operating as a cannabis accessories store since early April of last year from a storefront at 5123 51st St. in Yellowknife. Luke Wood, the proprietor, has been a vocal advocate for private retail since legalization.


Black market buds bring down the price of pot in Northwest Territories

Canada’s black market has been good for the price of legal green in Yellowknife.

The Consumer Price Index for recreational marijuana dropped a whopping 10 per cent from August 2019 to August 2020, according to My Yellowknife Now. The CPI is a statistical estimate that measures the difference in the cost of a product against a set average price.


Former Ice Road Truckers cast member to be sentenced for explosion from making cannabis shatter

Arthur “Art” Burke pled guilty to causing arson by negligence

A former cast member of hit reality TV show Ice Road Truckers will be sentenced on Friday in connection to an explosion caused by a homemade batch of cannabis shatter, CBC News reports.

Earlier this year, Arthur “Art” Burke pleaded guilty to causing arson by negligence after admitting to trying to create cannabis concentrate in the bathroom of an apartment in Yellowknife last November. 

Creating shatter requires the combination of plant materials and solvents and uses a large amount of butane, a flammable liquid that converts to gas at room temperature. A powerful explosion was caused once the butane ignited, blowing the bathroom door off its hinges and causing over $60,000 in damage to the building. 


Legal cannabis just got 10% cheaper in the N.W.T.

The N.W.T. government has cut the price of legal cannabis products by 10 per cent, a move the finance minister says is part of an effort to curb sales on the illicit market.

In a news release announcing the decision Tuesday, the territorial government said it's "confident it can reduce the price while maintaining a safe and secure retail regime." 

"The Government of the Northwest Territories is committed to eliminating the illegal sale of cannabis by providing residents with legal access to safe and secure products. Today's announcement is one of many steps that need to be taken to accomplish this goal," Finance Minister Caroline Wawzonek said in a statement. 


Where to buy weed during the COVID-19 pandemic

Approximately 4,000 times these past two weeks, I’ve thanked my lucky stars cannabis was legalized before the COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe and sent us all cowering in our bong dens.


N.W.T.'s online cannabis store lost $136K last year

The Northwest Territories's online cannabis store has seen only 604 users since legalization and lost $136,000 last fiscal year. It's on track to lose the same amount or more in 2019-2020.

That's despite a 44 per cent markup on all products sold in the online store — a profit margin which guarantees its prices are not competitive with black market vendors.

Since legalization, $3.9 million worth of legal cannabis has been sold in the territory. But just $57,664 of that — less than 1.5 per cent — was purchased online.

"The online store was established to ensure that NWT residents in all communities have access to safe and legal cannabis," Todd Sasaki, a spokesperson for the territory's Department of Finance, wrote in an email.


No cannabis, no new cannabis stores: minister admits delays

Yellowknife is still lacking licensed, private cannabis stores – and even, sometimes, any cannabis itself – almost 18 months after the drug's legalization in Canada.

In the NWT, the process of licensing new stores falls to the Department of Finance. On Monday, finance minister Caroline Wawzonek acknowledged the process was taking longer than expected.

"There certainly has been a delay," said Wawzonek.

At the moment, cannabis is only legally sold in the Northwest Territories through government-controlled stores.

The process of allowing business owners to operate private cannabis stores began last spring, when hopeful Yellowknife entrepreneurs were invited to respond to a request for qualifications.


Faulty pot: How to return your weed

Be careful what you wish for, especially when placing an order for weed online. Returning it can be a challenge, with policies varying from province to province.

Here’s what the shipping and return policies look like across the country.

British Columbia 

Bought a product that’s defective, shipped in error or recalled? The BC Cannabis Stores will take them back, but returns must be initiated within 15 days of the purchase.


O'Cannabis: On the first anniversary of legalization, a cross-country snapshot of where we stand

October 17, 2019, marks the first anniversary of the legalization of cannabis federally in Canada, and the date when the second phase of products — edibles, extracts, topicals and some other alternative cannabis products also become legal. 

Each province and territory were handed the reins for rolling out legalization, and the results in terms of access to legal marijuana are very different for Canadians depending on where they live. This has also had an impact on consumption patterns.


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