John Streicker, minister responsible for the Yukon Liquor Corporation, speaks at an announcement in Whitehorse on May 23. Streicker gave an update on cannabis sales and consumption in the Yukon on Nov. 6. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Yukon government pulls in pot profit, Streicker says

Minister John Streicker provided the legislative assembly with unaudited accounts

The Yukon government is seeing money flow back from its temporary pot-selling enterprise, according to John Streicker, minister responsible for the Yukon Liquor Corporation.

Speaking with reporters Nov. 6, Streicker said the plan all along was to break even. The government did, and then some, he said, when it decided to sell off its now-shuttered brick and mortar outlet.

Now, roughly $200,000 has come back from doing so, Streicker said, adding that a $750,000 start-up investment was paid off.

From Oct. 17, 2018 to exactly one year later more than $3.2 million has been marked as sales. This number includes the sale of the store, Streicker said.

In response to Streicker’s ministerial statement on Nov. 6 regarding unaudited accounts, NDP Leader Kate White suggested the government lower the price of legal pot in order to make a bigger dent in black market sales.

Streicker told reporters work continues on this front.

“We’ve always been working to make cannabis as cheap as it can be, because we know that’s the biggest driving factor towards displacing the illicit market,” he said.

He said nine initial supply agreements helped drive costs down.

“Sooner or later there will be local producers, so that might be a way to get at low-cost cannabis, and then, finally, we’ll work with the private sector.”

There’s no timeline for this. Streicker said the goal is to ensure the private sector is well-supported right now.

“I feel great about how much we’ve been able to displace so far. There’s more work to do, for sure.”

When delivering his statement in the legislative assembly, Streicker, citing a national study, said consumption rates have remained unchanged since legalization. This, he continued, indicates that the illicit market is being impacted by legal sales, the caveat being that it’s difficult to gauge.

“In the first year of legalization, the government store and private retail combined to sell just over 370 kilograms of cannabis,” he said. “As stated previously, the estimate for overall consumption in the Yukon is between 900 and 1,100 kilograms per year. This means that, one year in, legal sales are displacing somewhere between 35 and 40 percent of the illicit market.”

Stacey Hassard, interim leader of the Yukon Party, reiterated his point that the Liberals should have skipped opening its pot enterprise, instead letting the private sector step in on day one.

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

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