Al Lucier with the Department of Justice, planked by ministers and bureaucrats, talks to media in Whitehorse on Jan. 11, about the new licensing rules that could eventually direct privately-run cannabis stores this summer. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Yukon government provides more details on its proposed pot rules

Police will be able to throw stoners in the drunk tank, under proposed rules

Even though private retail rules aren’t expected to be ready in time for cannabis legalization this summer, the Yukon government provided a first look at what the new licencing rules could eventually look like for privately-run stores.

The territorial government released a summary of its proposed draft legislation Jan. 11. The paperwork provides a few more details about how cannabis could be managed when it is legalized.

The public has until Feb. 12 to comment. The government is expected to table the Cannabis Control and Regulation Act in March.

The government is proposing that the Yukon Liquor Corporation be responsible for distribution. A new corporation could be created in the future.

The corporation would be responsible for the purchase and import of cannabis that would be distributed to both public and eventually private retail outlets.

For now, the government will operate the only cannabis store in the territory as well as an online option.

There’s no timeline for when private businesses might be able to open their doors, said Patricia Randell, the government’s director of cannabis implementation and education.

A five-member licensing board would be responsible for granting licenses. The board would consider the number and type of licences already in the area, the population of the area, economic benefits, the premises, the views of the people in the area as well as the the “financial character and legal history of the applicant,” according to the government’s document.

As for where cannabis can be consumed, the proposal is that be restricted to private residences and adjoining property.

“We believe that allowing the consumption of cannabis, smoking in particular, on the streets and in our parks is not in the best interest of the health and well being of young people,” said health minister Pauline Frost.

Frost said the government will keep an eye on health research and consider changing or adapting the proposed act and regulations if necessary.

As for renters, under the proposed rules landlords would have the option, as they do with cigarettes, to restrict smoking on their property.

“In most cases landlords are in a position to restrict activities like that, that have an impact upon their property,” said deputy justice minister Lesley McCullough.

In some cases a landlord might be legally required to accommodate someone’s cannabis use, such as in cases where the Yukon Human Rights Act might apply, she said.

Condominiums could have bylaws that prohibit consumption.

Following the announcement, cabinet spokesperson Janine Workman confirmed that while it will be at the landlord’s discretion to allow smoking, “other forms of consumption, such as eating or drinking will be the choice of the individual tenant.”

The federal government will first be legalizing dried and fresh cannabis as well as oils. Ottawa “has indicated that within six months to a year they will be looking at edibles and concentrates,” said Randell.

Under the proposed Yukon rules, no one could consume cannabis “by inhaling smoke or vapour in an enclosed space that is a daycare, pre-school or other licensed child care home, whether or not children are present,” according to the government’s draft.

Nursing homes or other specified health care facilities will have designated areas for consumption.

The act does not apply to the sale, distribution, purchase, possession, consumption or cultivation of cannabis for medical purposes as authorized by federal legislation, the government says.

But certain proposed rules, like not being able to smoke or vape in the presence of a health care worker, would apply to medical cannabis.

No one could possess cannabis in a vehicle unless it is in a closed container and is inaccessible to all people in the vehicle.

Officers would be able to take an intoxicated person into custody without laying any charges, similar to what happens with alcohol.

“It begins with that they’re a danger to themselves or others. This is a no-charge arrest so they were taken in for the protection of themselves,” said Al Lucier with the Department of Justice.

“If it’s a young person certainly their parents will be contacted and every effort will be made, as it is now, to turn that individual over to a responsible person.”

Anyone ordering cannabis through the territory’s planned online option will have it delivered to them by someone who can confirm their age, the government says.

Yukoners won’t be able to legally order cannabis from other jurisdictions.

The legislation sets out that the only authority for distribution of cannabis in the territory will be the corporation.

“Which means that others can’t distribute into the territory without it being done through the corporation,” Lucier said.

Some specifics of the territory’s plans still haven’t been laid out. There’s no decision yet on how much cannabis might cost in the territory, Randell said. Specific penalties for breaking the law also haven’t been decided.

Decisions haven’t been made yet regarding where private cannabis shops could be located or any rules those businesses might have to follow regarding advertising.

The City of Whitehorse is considering a bylaw change that would limit shops to the Marwell neighbourhood but has said it could expand to other locations once private stores are an option.

A full breakdown of the government’s proposal, and details about how to submit comments is available online at engageyukon.ca/cannabis

For its part the official Opposition says it is still reviewing the document. In a statement, the Yukon Party said it will be looking at the tax level, if enforcement is adequate and whether the Yukon’s rules do enough to support the private sector.

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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