Northwest Territories


Ban on 'intoxicants' will keep legal cannabis off Northwest Territories reserve

With cannabis legalization on the way, communities across the Northwest Territories have a decision to make — will they hold a vote to ban cannabis after more than 90 years of prohibition ends?

On K'atl'odeeche First Nation territory, however, where intoxicants have been illegal since the 1980s, community members have the opposite choice to make: will they repeal their prohibition for Canada's newest legal drug?

The K'atl'odeeche First Nation Reserve is one of six dry communities in the N.W.T. Under a section of the Indian Act, First Nations can prohibit the sale and consumption of all intoxicants on their territory.

For K'atl'odeeche Chief Roy Fabian, that law includes cannabis by default.


6 NWT communities face July 16 deadline for cannabis plebiscites

Communities without liquor store have more time to decide.

It will likely be months before cannabis becomes legally available across Canada and in the Northwest Territories, but one significant deadline looms for six communities in the N.W.T.

Municipalities with liquor stores have until July 16 to notify the government if a cannabis plebiscite to ban or restrict local sales is needed. Communities in the N.W.T. with liquor stores are Yellowknife, Hay River, Inuvik, Fort Smith, Norman Wells and Fort Simpson.

According to a government press release, once cannabis is available through a retail outlet, local governments will no longer be able to hold a plebiscite.


N.W.T. government gives liquor stores 6-month head start on selling legal cannabis

Government commits to allow private retail stores 6 months after legalization.

Private retail cannabis stores will be left out of the legal cannabis market in the Northwest Territories when the drug becomes legal, but the door is open for them to get in six months after that.

MLAs rejected an amendment to the territorial government's cannabis legislation Thursday that would have required the finance minister to keep the door open for private cannabis stores as soon as legalization happened.

But a so-called "compromise" motion presented following that vote did pass.

It allows the government to designate any store it deems "in the public interest" and calls for the development of criteria for judging public interest within six months of legalization.


Justice minister nixes private pot sales proposal : N.W.T.

Several regular MLAs have expressed disappointment that the territorial government appears unwilling to entertain the idea of the private sale of cannabis once it becomes legal across Canada this summer.

It will be sold in government controlled liquor stores in the six communities that have liquor stores and otherwise through mail order.

Hay River MLA R.J. Simpson says the government is going against the wishes of the majority of NWT residents who have made their opinions known.

MLAs visited 16 communities and six schools across the territory earlier this year to get public input of Bill 6 – the government’s cannabis regulation bill.


Debate over private cannabis sales leaves MLAs at odds with NWT justice minister

'Cannabis is not coffee,' says justice minister, arguing there isn't a market to support private sales.

Members of the Northwest Territories legislative assembly focused on private cannabis sales as they publicly debated individual sections of Bill 6 — the territory's proposed Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Implementation Act — Monday morning.

The debate was part of a clause-by-clause review of the bill undertaken by the assembly's standing committees on social development and government operations before the bill is voted on in the Legislative Assembly. That vote is expected to come during the current sitting of the Legislative Assembly, which began on May 24.


Questions remain as NWT Legislature set to debate marijuana bill

Government has yet to release price of recreational marijuana, or where it will buy it from.

With marijuana expected to become legal soon in Canada, the Northwest Territories will attempt to pass its law legalizing the drug.

The territory's MLAs will debate and vote on the Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Implementation Act this week before the Legislative Assembly breaks for the summer, when the federal government's legislation is expected to take effect.

Before the vote happens, regular MLAs will present amendments to the government's initial proposal announced last November.


MP supports Indigenous profitting from legal cannabis

The MP for the Northwest Territories says he is all for Indigenous governments and organizations getting in on the profits to be made once cannabis becomes legal in Canada this summer.

Michael McLeod says he is well aware that the territorial government will control the sale and distribution of legal weed at least at the beginning.

But he adds over time – he would like to see Indigenous governments and entrepreneurs get in on the action.

“I totally applaud Indigenous governments that are looking at this as a business opportunity because that is what this is. I am anticipating that down the road we will have opportunity to do that.”


Cannabis education coming in Indigenous languages, says NWT gov't

But a Tlicho leader says elders need more details.

As cannabis becomes legalized, a community leader is calling for more public information in his Indigenous language.

In late April, Chief Clifford Daniels of Behchoko told CBC he wants to see information about the proposed cannabis laws in his community's language, Tlicho.

"We really need to inform the public. And it shouldn't be up to the community governments to pick up that cost," he said.

According to the Government of the Northwest Territories and Health Canada, communities like Daniels' will get what they need.

Audio recordings available


MLAs, liquor commission have different ideas about what's required to sell cannabis

MLAs have been told liquor stores need two entrances in order to sell the drug.

With a cannabis legalization only months away, some N.W.T. MLAs and regulators are saying different things about what will be required for liquor stores in the territory to sell the drug.

Over the past 11 days, MLAs travelled to 16 communities to get feedback on the territorial government's proposed Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Implementation Act, or Bill 6.

But instead of people voicing their opinions about the regulations, they asked more questions. 


N.W.T. defence lawyer on what legalized cannabis will mean for justice system

'I have never seen a fight associated with cannabis,' says lawyer Peter Harte.

As N.W.T. draft legislation for the legalization of cannabis is under review, many have wondered how it will affect the criminal justice system and policing. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau renewed his promise Thursday that recreational cannabis use will be legal by summer. The N.W.T.'s Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Implementation Act, or Bill 6, is currently under review.


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