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Nunavut's draft pot legislation to prohibit home-grown cannabis, allow private stores

Nunavut’s draft pot legislation to prohibit home-grown cannabis, allow private stores

Nunavummiut will not be able to grow cannabis in their homes, if the territory’s Cannabis Act passes into law as it is currently proposed.

Bill 7 was introduced to the Legislative Assembly for a first reading on May 24. Next week, it is expected to receive a second reading — at which point it is likely the Minister of Finance, David Akeeagok, will speak to the bill.

The bill will likely then pass to a standing committee for further review.

The Cannabis Act was drafted based on what the territorial government heard during community consultations, according to Dan Carlson, assistant deputy minister for the Department of Finance.

One of the biggest things they heard was that people didn’t want marijuana being grown in people’s homes, because it would normalize pot use for youth and increase the risk of damage to housing units from mould or fire.

The federal bill to legalize cannabis is poised to allow Canadians to grow up to four plants in their residences, but both Manitoba and Quebec have indicated they will ban home growing.

Private pot stores possible

The bill does allow for private enterprises to apply for a licence to sell cannabis that will be regulated by a superintendent of licensing. 

This provision was also included as a result of the consultations, which found that Nunavummiut saw economic opportunities as one of the benefits of legal cannabis, Carlson said.

Dan Carlson, assistant deputy minister for Nunavut’s Department of Finance, says Nunavummiut see economic opportunities as one of the benefits of legal cannabis. (Travis Burke/CBC)

Private businesses might even be able to set up shop before the territorial government, meaning there will be in-community options to combat illegal weed, without the wait times of online orders.

In addition to stores, the act allows for cannabis lounges, spaces for adults to consume non-smoked cannabis. Temporary event licenses will also be allowed.

A community consultation period of at least three months is required before stores could be opened either by a private business or the Liquor and Cannabis Commission.  

This precludes the possibility of a physical store opening in 2018, Carlson said.  

If the bill is passed as is, the government will then put out a tender for established online retailers in the South to sell to Nunavummiut, as there are no federally licensed producers currently in the territory.

Nunavummiut will be able to receive their purchases by mail and have their identities verified at pick up.

The bill also considers the difference between cannabis and alcohol in that it prohibits giving someone cannabis without their consent or knowledge, as it can be difficult to detect in lotions, oils and edibles.

However, the bill sticks with search regulations that are similar to how liquor is currently managed — police can search a vehicle with reasonable grounds, but need consent or a warrant to enter a residence.

The proposed act will not take effect until federal legislation is passed. 

Full story is available here.

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