Whitehorse Daily Star

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Melodie Simard

Marwell is closer to being pot shop location

It seems unlikely the city will consider anywhere outside of Marwell just yet for retail cannabis sales.

By Stephanie Waddell on February 20, 2018

It seems unlikely the city will consider anywhere outside of Marwell just yet for retail cannabis sales.

At Monday evening’s council meeting, Melodie Simard, the city’s planning and sustainability manager brought forward a recommendation that council move forward with second and third readings of a zoning change.

That modification would limit the sale of cannabis to the Marwell neighbourhood after it becomes legal late this summer or early fall.

The recommendation comes following a public hearing and other input opportunities on the zoning. That process saw a number of residents raise concerns and opposition to the proposed location.

Critics argued it would inconvenience customers who may have to transfer buses.

They pointed out that Marwell has a lack of roads, parking and pedestrian/cycling infrastructure.

Council was warned there could be issues with noise, security and the like.

They also heard that limiting the pot shop to one area could encourage the illicit drug market, and it would be unfair to prospective retailers hoping to run an outlet downtown.

As Simard highlighted last night though, the territory has jurisdiction over cannabis sales.

The first phase of implementation on cannabis sales in the territory will see the government as the only retailer.

During future phases of implementation, other areas of town may be considered for retail sales, Simard recalled the government as having said recently.

“The proposed bylaw implements the initial phase of legalization, but YG’s framework for cannabis legalization acknowledges the need for additional time to develop regulations for private cannabis retailing,” Simard noted in her report to council.

“Once further details are finalized on the privatization of cannabis retailing, the city will work with the public on identifying suitable areas, including potential downtown locations.”

It was confirmed that Marwell was selected because the government had initially indicated it wanted its cannabis location connected to its liquor warehouse in that neighbourhood.

It has since decided it would rather have separate locations for cannabis sales.

“YG is currently developing the foundation for the legislative and regulatory framework for cannabis legalization,” Simard highlighted in her report to council.

“There are many considerations that need to be addressed and finalized by YG, including regulations for licensing of private retailers.

“Once these details are finalized, the zoning bylaw can be amended to accommodate these changes including proposed new locations.

“In the interim, identifying Marwell as the location for YG operations, fulfills a precautionary approach, while recognizing that the system will adapt as new lessons are learned about the proper management of cannabis in Yukon.”

As Coun. Samson Hartland pointed out during council discussion, while he would like to see private retailers eventually open, the Yukon government has decided it will be solely responsible for sales at this point.

Consequently, the city does not have much of a role to play outside of the zoning change, Hartland pointed out.

“Unfortunately, we’re a creature of territorial legislation,” he said.

Similarly, Coun. Dan Boyd suggested the area around the intersection of the Alaska Highway and Robert Service Way as another option for eventual retail sales of the drug.

He acknowledged at this point though it’s a bit “late in the game to consider” for August or September, now the federal government’s target time frame for legalizing cannabis.

Council is set to vote on the final two readings on the bylaw limiting sales to Marwell next Monday.

The following day is the closing day for the territory’s request for proposals to lease or buy a 415-metre space in the neighbourhood that would serve as the warehouse and retail space for cannabis sales.

Comments (18)

Up 0 Down 0

Lmao on Feb 26, 2018 at 10:31 pm

Still can't believe the government is stupid enough to think this will stop illegal sales.Really??? The crime profiteers are already planning on dumping prices to almost half off government prices. Underselling will make dope so cheap thanks to the government drug dealers.

Up 0 Down 1

Groucho d'North on Feb 26, 2018 at 11:46 am

It’s interesting to watch the evolution of pot legalisation here in Canada and how the politicians are adapting their messages as reality comes to bear.
For openers, legal pot legalisation was a lure for many Canadian voters, as the Liberals believed they could capture more votes by promising legal recreational weed by Canada Day 2018. The message from Justin himself was, “… to do it to protect our kids and to keep the money out of the pockets of criminals.”
Then the messages were about dealing a blow to organised crime who apparently are filthy rich from the sale of weed. Still the message was about protecting kids and dealing a blow to the crime syndicates. Nobody ever spoke about the windfall profits the state governments of Washington and Colorado were experiencing since they legalised the herb. The Liberals then began issuing soft messages about the taxes of $1 per gram on legalised sales being split between the federal and provincial governments. That’s $28 hard cost per ounce.
Some governments, including the Yukon said no, we’ll need more of the profit made from the taxing and sales of pot because we’ll be doing most of the heavy lifting to deal with pot as a legitimate commodity in our marketplace. All the while the same message about protecting kids and reducing organized crime made it into the news cycle.
But the provinces and territories need more time to smooth out all the legal kinks to make it happen, so legalisation is delayed to “Sometime this summer…” I anticipate this message to change yet again as summer comes and goes.
I am very curious how governments will be a viable alternative to purchase weed from compared to the criminal element who are not burdened by keeping track of taxes and all the associated book-keeping and reporting to the senior government. Which of the two options do you believe has the higher cost of sales?
So, what’s the strategy Yukon government will be using to achieve their goals of eliminating the criminal pot for the government approved option? How will they reduce the cost of sales so they will yield a greater profit than the criminals and still add a tax? More to the point; how do they intend to make an impact on the black market sales of weed? The obvious solution is tax-funded support to the emerging government industry so they can afford to keep the staff paid, the stock on the shelves and the customers coming in.
Already the retail outlet in Whitehorse will be well removed from walk-in traffic way off in the boonies of Marwell - that should really impact sales. Will government pot be of better quality compared to the criminal alternative? The criminal dealers offer sample testers to demonstrate the quality of their product, I doubt government will do the same, but perhaps they will have some fancy posters in the store to illustrate their product compared to the other options and why it is better.
And the big hammer - PRICE. I expect the criminal dealers will follow the same tactics as the big grocery stores and drop their prices for a while and impact the government sales forcing government into a price war. Any bets on who will win that one?
And home agriculture I suspect will also have a negative effect on government sales. But same as home brewing or wine making, not everybody has the time, space or patience to grow 100% of all they consume, but it will have some level of impact all the same.
I imagine the black market players are shaking in their boots as government encroaches into their territory of weed sales.
I’m curious if any of the government policy wonks creating this new government enterprise have any experience as retailers (and I don’t mean working a till at Tim Hortons) and really understand how consumerism works, what price points are, how promotions really work and how margin means everything, how product quality and building customer loyalty play an important role, and how they compete in the marketplace will determine their level of success? Its sure going to be fun to watch considering their selling of booze has been a long time monopoly and all they do is put the product on the shelves.

Up 1 Down 1

Juniper Jackson on Feb 24, 2018 at 8:21 am

Legalizing street drugs is not going to stop organized crime...the papers would have one think that everyone in the Territory is a pot head.. that being said.. the traffic in the Marwell area is going to be horrendus..and thousands of people running in the streets to buy their dope.. better get a lot of cross walks in.

Up 0 Down 1

Clueless in LaLaLand on Feb 23, 2018 at 12:08 pm

These people are as clueless as it gets. I ain't driving to Marwell to get my plant matter!! It will never happen! Your store will be shut-down within a year due to lack of sales! As the poster said below, you allow everything else around kids like ohh no, that evil weed is SURELY going to change them!! Not the porn, not the booze, not the drunks fighting, etc, etc, etc, etc, no no no it's the green plant that's going to change it all! DINOSAURS. Go extinct already!!!

Up 1 Down 0

ProScience Greenie on Feb 22, 2018 at 2:27 pm

It's as easy to grow a half decent crop of weed as is for tomatoes Groucho and cheap like borscht to do so. There is a good chance that many good folks will grow a surplus and give it away or barter with friends, family and neighbors. Very much like what happens now with homegrown veggies, eggs, preserves etc.

Both the black market and govie suppliers and distributors won't be laughing about that when they see their bottom line take a hit from free-spirited Yukoners with a green thumb.

Up 3 Down 1

Groucho d'North on Feb 21, 2018 at 7:00 pm

I'll bet the organised crime element they are trying to undersell are laughing their asses off.

Up 6 Down 1

Hugh Mungus on Feb 21, 2018 at 2:38 pm

This is an epic fail. There is a ton of leaseable space in the downtown area where this shop belongs. Hiding it in the least accessible area of the city is laughable given what citizens witness daily from the dozens of drunkards pissing, vomiting, staggering and fighting all over town. YG and COW need to get it through their thick skulls that this is a retail operation and belongs downtown.

Up 4 Down 1

Bandit on Feb 21, 2018 at 1:28 pm

Al, I have a pretty good idea why Councillor Boyd suggested the intersection near Yukon Gardens. Do you think the newly expanded HUGE greenhouse is going to be for growing long english cukes? I doubt it, however is it possible Councillor Boyd knows more about this than reported? Possibly a building permit issued, a business license application to grow/supply YG? Just saying.

Up 4 Down 3

Josey Wales on Feb 21, 2018 at 10:30 am

Hey captain....your points are spot on! Our nobles lack any level of cognitive comprehension, but I suspect this is more connected to taxation freebies for the cultural elites....as that property is reserve land.
But you are right, our council is denser than depleted uranium.

Up 2 Down 5

My Opinion on Feb 20, 2018 at 11:29 pm

@Captain Obvious. Actually I think it is all bad and a sign of how much our society is slipping, dramatically fast actually. But get at er and we will see where it all ends up.

Up 3 Down 2

Woodcutter on Feb 20, 2018 at 10:38 pm

Well said captain

Up 1 Down 3

Al on Feb 20, 2018 at 9:21 pm

Why would Dan Boyd suggest the Yukon Gardens area as a potential place for sales, of all places in the Yukon? That strikes me as strange.
Anyway the sustainability manager nailed it with this, for now, "Marwell as the location for YG operations, fulfills a precautionary approach, while recognizing that the system will adapt as new lessons are learned about the proper management of cannabis in Yukon.”"

Up 2 Down 1

Wilf Carter on Feb 20, 2018 at 8:25 pm

Has anyone been to Europe and seen how they sell it.
Will restaurants be able to sell eatable pot?
Will there be off sales of pot in bars?

Up 4 Down 2

Wilf Carter on Feb 20, 2018 at 8:22 pm

What do you think? Sell it out of City Hall?
Has anyone seen such foolishness?

Up 5 Down 2

Max Mack on Feb 20, 2018 at 6:55 pm

If there was every any doubt that CoW and GY ignore their citizens, let this story remove all doubt.

Up 5 Down 2

Allan faulds on Feb 20, 2018 at 5:51 pm

So why did they waste money on public consultation when there gonna do what they want anyway?

Up 3 Down 1

ProScience Greenie on Feb 20, 2018 at 5:47 pm

Guess it's baby steps but at least we're heading in the right direction - towards more liberty and sanity and less reefer madness nonsense. It won't be the end of the world. Let's hope that on opening day of legal weed, the RCMP go full bore shutting down the hard drug dealers that are everywhere in our Yukon.

Up 9 Down 2

Captain Obvious on Feb 20, 2018 at 3:54 pm

I can't believe how dense council is for thinking this is an acceptable implementation. Worrying about location of a legitimate pot sales site on the premise of potential damage, while allowing a liquor store, off-sales, a porn shop, two homeless shelters, the heroin hotel, and the SA office to be within a stones throw of an elementary school? Give your heads a shake.

You have bigger worries than restricting the locations for shops to allow people to pick up legal bud, rather than having it dropped off downtown by a dial-a-doper. You should be embracing this and working with these entrepreneurs, rather than fighting them.

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