Individual communities in the Northwest Territories will be given the right to uphold or repeal marijuana prohibition, according to the region's proposed cannabis regulations. In preparation for the federal government's plan to legalize recreational marijuana by July 1, 2018, the territory has released tentative regulations in a report called Cannabis Legalization in the Northwest Territories: The Way Forward.
Among the proposed regs is a plan to allow communities to decide the legality of recreational marijuana through public plebiscites, which communities already use to decide whether or not to allow alcohol in their jurisdiction. So there could be dry as well as smoke-free regions of Canada's most populous territory.
If they choose to get onboard with legalization, then adults 19 or older in the community will be allowed to possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis at a time. And they'll be allowed to grow up to 4 plants at home. Public consumption will be restricted to protect others from second-hand smoke. This formula is very similar to regulations in other regions like Ontario and New Brunswick.
Retails sales will by handled by the NWT Liquor Commission, which will stock marijuana alongside liquor at their outlets. The provincially owned liquor board will also handle the importation and distribution of cannabis through retail outlets as well as through mail-order in the remote region.
The report also said that other issues — including sanctions for high drivers, rules for cannabis in the workplace, and plans to educate the public about marijuana — will be addressed as the territory moves toward legalization. In the meantime, they are encouraging the public to take part in the process of ironing out the new regs.
“We know this issue matters to Northerners and that is why we have made public engagement a priority and will continue to keep residents informed throughout this process as we work with the Members of the Legislative Assembly to ensure we have the appropriate laws, guidelines, policies and programs in place to achieve an orderly management of legal cannabis,” Minister of Justice Louis Sebert said via press release.
The government plans to introduce two marijuana bills — the Cannabis Act and the Cannabis and the Cannabis Smoking Control Act — to the Legislative Assembly when it reconvenes, which will put them on track to finalize the new legislation by June 2018.