Justice minister Tracy-Anne McPhee speaks at a news conference outlining the future plans of Yukon’s marijuana legistlation on Nov. 20, 2017. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Yukon government reveals proposed pot rules

‘We’re under a tight timeline, everybody is Canada is, so we’re doing this in stages’

Shoppers will have to be at least 19 years old to buy cannabis in the territory when the drug is legalized across Canada in July.

Yukon officials announced the basics of their plans Nov. 20. They’ll start with one government-owned retail location in Whitehorse open in time for nationwide legalization. There are also plans for an online retail store for Yukoners in the communities.

For now the Yukon government is planning to have the sole authority to import, warehouse, transport and distribute recreational cannabis within the territory. But Justice Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee said licensed private retailers will come later.

“Our approach acknowledges the need for additional time to develop regulations including a licencing system for private retail that will reflect Yukon’s interests and values,” she said.

The Yukon government will need to pass its own Cannabis Act, presumably during the March sitting of the legislative assembly, to get things in line in time for July.

The government plans to set the minimum aged at 19 for possession, consumption and cultivation of cannabis. That’s one year older than the federal minimum of 18 and the same as the Yukon’s rules around alcohol. The proposed Yukon legislation would allow adults to possess 30 grams of cannabis, and grow up to four plants for personal use.

Under the proposed new law, consumption would only be allowed in privately-owned residences and their adjoining properties where permitted by the owner, though there is the potential for that to be expanded in the future.

Deputy justice minister Lesley McCullough said the government is still looking at options to balance the rights of property owners with the rights of Yukoners who rent.

Wherever the government decides to build its first brick-and-mortar store, officials confirmed that cannabis will not be for sale inside the territory’s liquor stores.

Under the proposed new law cannabis could not be sold in the same place as liquor.

There has been no final decision yet over whether the store will be managed by a branch of the Yukon Liquor Corporation. McPhee said the government is working closely with those officials. “They do have experience with intoxicants and with the import, and regulation, and sale,” she said.

Officials said they expect the federal legislation to deal with the possibility of a craft industry in the territory for Yukoners who want to grow, sell or potentially export their own plants.

“This is the beginning. We’re under a tight timeline, everybody in Canada is, so we’re doing this in stages,” said McPhee. “It is something that will likely be contemplated in the future and our legislation will permit that so we don’t have to come back and change it.”

Yukoners can find out more about the plans for cannabis legislation at engageyukon.ca. The government is also accepting public feedback by Dec. 20, 2017 via cannabis@gov.yk.ca.

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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