Minister of Justice Louis Sebert released the Government of the Northwest Territories proposed plan for legalizing cannabis in the NWT today.

Legalisation of Cannabis in the Northwest Territories – The Way Forward report provides an overview of the GNWT’s proposed approach. The GNWT is working on how it will cover topics such as minimum age, possession limits, public smoking, the sale and distribution of recreational cannabis, impaired driving, workplace safety and public education. The Way Forward report takes into account input received through the cannabis public engagement process, as well as other important factors, including inter-jurisdictional considerations, coordination with enforcement partners, practical and financial implications for implementation in the required timeframe and current research on the health impacts of cannabis.

The GNWT recently released a report made up of public feedback. What We Heard‘ was the collective feedback of NWT residents on how the GNWT should regulate marijuana.

Some of the released details include:

  • The proposed minimum age for the possession and consumption of cannabis for NWT residents is 19 years.
  • Adults 19 and older will be allowed to possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis or its equivalent in a public place. Adults will also be allowed to grow up to 4 plants per household for personal use.
  • Adults 19 and older will be allowed to smoke cannabis in their homes. Public smoking of cannabis will be prohibited in certain areas in order to protect others from second-hand smoke exposure.
  • The NWT Liquor Commission will be responsible for the importation and sale of cannabis in the NWT. Initially, NWT residents will only be able to purchase cannabis through liquor stores or by a mail order service run by the NWT Liquor Commission.
  • NWT communities will have the option to hold a plebiscite to prohibit cannabis, similar to the options currently available to restrict alcohol.
  • The Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission (WSCC) will be responsible for reviewing occupational health and safety regulations and consulting with employers, labour groups and workers to ensure that any changes or additions adequately address impairment issues.
  • The GNWT is still setting up new sanctions for drug-impaired driving.

Louis Sebert spoke about how the GNWT is working to make sure regulations are in place for July, 2018.

Our government is working to make sure the NWT is ready with a framework for regulating recreational cannabis when the Government of Canada makes it legal in July 2018,” said Sebert. “We know this issue matters to Northerners and that is why we have made public engagement a priority and will continue to keep residents informed throughout this process as we work with the Members of the Legislative Assembly to ensure we have the appropriate laws, guidelines, policies and programs in place to achieve an orderly management of legal cannabis.

The GNWT says they will continue work to develop the policies and programs necessary to address the legalization of cannabis in the Northwest Territories.