The minister responsible for the Yukon Liquor Corporation is walking back a statement from his department which said the government would have to ask for more money if it wanted to buy a new building to warehouse and sell cannabis in.
Last week, when it was revealed that the only bid to be the location of the government cannabis store came in at more than the entire startup budget for the new distribution corporation, a representative for the liquor corporation said buying a facility would mean the department “would need to seek additional funding.”
In the legislative assembly March 12, Minister John Streicker said “the amount of money that’s in the budget for a facility is fine within the startup costs.”
Following question period Streicker said if the government chose to purchase the building its price would be amortized over 20 years. That means the building would cost the corporation approximately $170,000 per year, the department of finance confirmed.
Still, Streicker said he hasn’t decided if the government is going to buy that building on Quartz Avenue.
He said officials considering other options such as using the liquor corporation’s warehouse and getting a smaller facility to sell out of.
“A third option is to consider how quickly we can get private sector up and running,” he said. “Those are all the choices that I have in front of me and we’re working on them now.”
The Yukon government doesn’t intend to stay in cannabis sales forever, Streicker said.
“We’re looking to see how this can transition to the private sector as soon as we’re able to get the regulations and the ability to get the private sector to come online,” he said.
“While we are working to ensure that cannabis is available for our citizens, we’re not trying to commit long-term to have a store.”
He would not say when regulations for the private sector are going to be ready. “I think we’re working hard.”
He told the legislative assembly that 90 per cent of the government’s $3 million startup costs will go to buying inventory for the store.
“Part of that is to deal with the fact that, until after the date when cannabis is legalized across the country and until such time as the production catches up, there may be a shortage, so we’re just looking to make sure that there is a supply in place.”
Streicker would not definitively say if the government is still committed to having a physical cannabis store up and running in time for legalization. There are still “choices” to be made, he said. Streicker said the government is working on making sure there will be cannabis available by the time it becomes legal.
Along with a store, the government has said it plans to have an online cannabis sales option.
Streicker said the Yukon will be hiring fewer than five full-time people to deal with cannabis enforcement and regulations. Retail jobs will be temporary contracts.
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