Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

PROPOSED POT RULES UNVEILED – Yukon government policy advisor Laura Lang talks pot legalization in the territory during a news conference held this morning. From left to right are Patricia Randell, the government’s director of cannabis implementation, Health and Social Services Minister Pauline Frost and Justice Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee.

Cannabis sales price, tax bite remain unknown

The Yukon government released the territory’s cannabis legalization framework today,

By Taylor Blewett on November 20, 2017

The Yukon government released the territory’s cannabis legalization framework today, with many elements that reflect the government’s self-professed “cautious approach” toward legalized marijuana.

The framework outlines a proposed legal age, a distribution and retail model, and possession, growing and consumption limits.

All represent a “starting point” from which the government’s eventual legislation will “evolve as we learn about the best approach for Yukon,” the framework reads.

“Our government is taking a cautious approach to the implementation of legalized cannabis,” according to the document, available on the government’s website.

“Our plan is to maximize local benefits while minimizing local harms.”

The proposed minimum age for Yukon residents to legally possess, consume and cultivate cannabis is 19.

While the federal government’s Cannabis Act allows legal cannabis activity for those 18 and older, 19 matches the Yukon’s age for liquor purchase.

Consumption of the drug would be limited to privately-owned residences and adjoining property with the permission of the owner.

Part of the Yukon legalization model’s stated mandate is to “allow adults who choose to consume cannabis to have reasonable access to purchase and consume it legally,” according to the framework.

However, this consumption regulation would leave renters severely limited in their ability to do so, if their landlord or building owner prohibits cannabis consumption in a rented unit.

As public consumption is not allowed in the framework as it currently stands, these individuals would have to seek out another – cannabis-friendly – private residence in which to consume or smoke it.

Alberta’s proposed legislation, for example, allows for cannabis smoking in public places where smoking tobacco is permitted.

The framework does say it will “provide for the potential to allow consumption in other spaces in the future.”

Ottawa has committed to a July 2018 deadline for cannabis legalization – no longer the first of the month, but some point in July – and so too has the territorial government.

“The Government of Yukon will ensure that Yukoners have legal access to cannabis upon federal legalization next year,” according to the framework.

It remains to be seen whether that July 2018 access means a brick and mortar, government-operated retail store in Whitehorse or a Yukon government e-commerce system.

Patricia Randell, the government’s director of cannabis implementation and education, told reporters at a news conference this morning that the government is looking at making both available to Yukoners at some point. However, a timeline for their operation has yet to be determined.

Justice Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee did confirm, however, that the first retail store will be located in Whitehorse, though its specific site hasn’t been finalized.

And it won’t be the government’s liquor store – according to the framework, the government has decided against selling alcohol and cannabis in the same location.

Co-locating the two substances is not a best practice, according to Laura Lang, a senior policy advisor with Health and Social Services.

The Yukon Liquor Corporation (YLC) still seems likely to be involved in the operation of a government cannabis retail store.

“Those decisions are still being made,” McPhee said.

She went on to note that the government is working closely with YHC “because they do have experience with intoxicants and with the importation and regulation and sale, so yes, that’s what we’re working on.”

The framework also provides for the possibility of government-licensed private retail stores.

Other proposed regulations include the public possession limit of 30 grams of dried cannabis, and permission for a household to grow up to four marijuana plants for personal use.

As provided for in federal legislation, the Yukon government has decided it will have the sole authority to import, transport or distribute recreational cannabis in the territory.

“This proposed approach provides government with the opportunity to control the supply chain and the price of cannabis, which will help reduce illicit activity,” the framework reads.

“It will also ensure the legitimacy and quality of cannabis for retail sale.

The Yukon government has not arrived at a price nor territorial taxation scheme for recreational cannabis.

The types of cannabis product it makes available will be determined by federal legislation.

Currently, Ottawa will include dried cannabis and oils, but not edibles in the July 2018 legalization.

The proposed framework largely matches the results of a government survey on cannabis legalization.

Thousands of Yukoners completed it, making it the largest government survey ever completed in the territory.

Setting the minimum age at 19 was the most popular age limit option among respondents.

A significant majority supported the 30-gram possession limit, and the four-plant household growing limit.

A slim majority – 51 per cent – favoured a hybrid retail model featuring public and private retail stores, while selling alcohol and cannabis in separate locations was the most popular option among respondents to the question of co-location.

Seventy-seven per cent of respondents agreed that people should be allowed to smoke cannabis on private property.

The framework does not reflect public preference in two areas: public consumption and distribution.

Among survey respondents, 57 per cent indicated that the public smoking of cannabis should be subject to the same restrictions as tobacco.

The most popular distribution model was government-licensed private distributors.

Under the framework, public smoking is not allowed, and the Yukon government will be the sole distributor of recreational cannabis.

The Yukon joins Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, and New Brunswick, all of which have released comprehensive cannabis frameworks.

The government is accepting public feedback on the framework at cannabis@gov.yk.ca until Dec. 20.

Comments (12)

Up 1 Down 0

warlord on Nov 25, 2017 at 12:59 pm

Medical pot grown under supervision, with stringent expert oversight and distribution models should be the number one priority over and above the pleasure market for dead heads. Consultation with Israel on this should be factored in as they are the foremost advanced medical pot growers on the planet.

This is not a government commercial liquor store scenario.

Up 0 Down 0

woodcutter on Nov 23, 2017 at 3:16 pm

to Bill
There is a large difference between Tobacco and alcohol, verses marijuana. The addictive issue of tobacco and alcohol create an addiction which results in what in economics is called "elasticity of demand" or in this case an elasticity. These two products have the power on people, that no matter what the price is charged, the user/addict will purchase this product. Combine this addiction with an Income tax structure that makes home distillation illegal for spirits leaves the government with a leverage to raise taxes, in the worse cases people will give up food and shelter to feed an addiction.

Marijuana on the other hand, does not have the same addictive hold on people, and combined with an individual being able to grow 4 plants in their home, will in effect stifle the ability of the government to tax too aggressively. People can stop participating without needing a detox process. With alcohol and tobacco the process can be deadly, without medical intervention.

I am kinda happy that there will be a tax, it will give me an increased feeling of good will, as I will feel I am providing additional support to the territory and country I love.

Up 1 Down 0

Atom on Nov 23, 2017 at 1:27 pm

It doesn't say pot can be smoked where cigarettes can...that's in Alberta....read folks...and it's just pot....which is everywhere and has been for a long time. Please don't make this into a big deal people.

Up 5 Down 0

Bill on Nov 22, 2017 at 9:10 pm

I’m sure a lot of people are hoping the prices stay well below the black market price otherwise it’ll all be pointless . But ya know people the governments are likely to squeeze us with this in the same way they’ve got liquor and tobacco products pushed to the max using all the excuses under the sun . Soon they’ll be telling us about the medical costs that are associated with legal pot , the counselling costs , the enforcement and Bla Bla Bla till the price of a bag of weed is barely or not affordable at all

Up 2 Down 1

Woodcutter on Nov 22, 2017 at 7:50 pm

Only in your home, not in the woodlot? I smell court challenge on the restriction of rights only applies to the wealthy, should have a mortgage.

Go slow I agree , but this is already restrictive in the opening moves. Your acting like conservative fear mongers then progressives.

Up 2 Down 0

Jus Say'in on Nov 22, 2017 at 3:09 pm

They are saying you will be able to smoke pot where ever you can smoke cigarettes. That is BS. You can't drink alcohol in Rotary or Shipyards Park as an example, you can smoke cigarettes so I guess they are saying they will be allowed to consume drugs and get wasted in front of the kids. This is being rolled out way too fast. Impaired in public is wrong no matter your drug of choice.

Up 5 Down 2

mary laker on Nov 21, 2017 at 10:52 am

Thank you for posting the website. Much appreciated.

Up 14 Down 7

ProScience Greenie on Nov 21, 2017 at 9:25 am

Fair enough. Just don't turn it into a tax grab or push out small mom and pop types with a green thumb that want to grow it along with the many other fine vegetables, herbs and fruits that they produce locally for us.

Up 12 Down 10

jc on Nov 20, 2017 at 9:06 pm

Pot and taxes. My how those Liberals are busy these days.

Up 11 Down 7

moe on Nov 20, 2017 at 5:40 pm

Better to take it a step at a time than to license private retail stores, allow consumption wherever tobacco is allowed, then have to back track should there be problems. There's only one direction you can easily go in with this legislation and that's toward relaxation of the laws. If you start kind of restricted with an eye to seeing how it's going then reviewing it in 18 months for possibly less restrictions, that works.

Nothing unexpected here so far. And as for tenants, they are not supposed to smoke cigarettes inside rental units if it's not allowed in the contract so this is no different. But they should be allowed to smoke weed outside in their yards or on their balconies should they choose. My opinion.

Up 16 Down 4

Groucho d'North on Nov 20, 2017 at 5:39 pm

I hope the combined mark-up and taxes are not in the same fashion as is used for liquor sales in the Yukon. That would be abusive.

Up 20 Down 4

Thomas Brewer on Nov 20, 2017 at 5:00 pm

'Co-locating the two substances is not a best practice' based on what?
So more duplication of staff and leased space. Sounds like there's no way they'll be able to sell at a price point that undercuts the black market.

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