The Yukon Government wants the public’s input into its marijuana legislation which can be done through an online survey until Sept. 30. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News)

Survey opens on Yukon’s pot plans

Territory will likely have ‘phased-in approach’ to new weed laws

The territorial government wants to know what the public is looking for in upcoming marijuana legislation.

In an online survey, open until Sept. 30, the government is asking Yukoners to answer questions about where cannabis could be consumed in public, how it will be sold, the legal age for consumption, and whether any changes need to happen to the territory’s occupational health and safety or driving laws.

It’s all being done in anticipation of the federal legalization of recreational cannabis on July 1, 2018.

Legislation proposed by the federal government would allow adults aged 18 and older to possess up to 30 grams of dried marijuana.

Canada’s provinces and territories have the option of tweaking those rules. Yukon will have to come up with its own set of laws detailing exactly what cannabis sales in the territory are going to look like.

Justice Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee said the government expects to have some form of its own legislation in place by July 1. The law would be introduced in the spring 2018 sitting, she said.

As for what exactly that law might look like, the minister said it’s too soon to say. A government working group is still putting together recommendations, she said.

“Part of what they’ll come back to us with is the information that will be gathered in this survey, among other things.”

In the survey Yukoners are being asked if they think the age restriction in the Yukon should be bumped to 19, to line up with the territory’s liquor laws. Higher restrictions, either to 21 as recommended by the Canadian Pediatric Society or to 25 as recommended by the Canadian Medical Association, are also on the list of options to discuss.

Yukoners are being asked whether the territory should establish retail stores that would be operated only by the government, allow private retail stores, or come up with regulations that would allow for some combination of the two.

McPhee said she’s anticipating that the territory will have “a phased in approach” to its new laws.

“Between now and July of 2018 is not that far away, and what we want to do is gather every piece of information that we can,” she said.

That means certain laws, like those surrounding brick and mortar locations, could come into effect after July 1.

“The questions in the survey, things like should this be government selling? Should private industry be able to deal with it? We just haven’t gathered that information.”

If the federal law goes through as is, Yukoners would still be able to get legal cannabis through a federally run online or mail order delivery system.

The survey touches on whether some regulations should be left up to local governments “even if it means the potential for different rules from community to community in Yukon.”

Yukoners can also weigh in on whether the territory needs more laws to regulate drug-impaired driving or impairment in the workplace.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act already allows for workers and employers to be fined if the worker is found to be impaired in the workplace.

The survey doesn’t provide specific options for what changes might look like. In May the Yukon Party introduced a motion in the Yukon Legislative Assembly calling on the government to develop post-incident drug and alcohol testing for Yukon government employees involved in serious workplace incidents.

The motion was not discussed last sitting.

The government’s survey is online. It can also be completed over the phone by calling 1-866-527-8266. McPhee said the government plans to consult with First Nations, municipal governments, the business community and non-governmental associations.

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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