This summer, cannabis will become legal for recreational use and sale across Canada. To prepare for the new market, Yukon - a small Canadian Territory - plans to buy $2.7 million worth of weed to keep their stores well stocked. That's 90 percent of their $3 million budget for marijuana retail infrastructure.
Minister John Streicker, who is responsible for the Yukon Liquor Corporation and is overseeing the introduction of cannabis retail in Yukon, told the legislative assembly on Monday that he wants to be ready for any potential supply shortages. "After the date when cannabis is legalized across the country, and until such time as production catches up, there may be a shortage. We're looking to make sure that there is a supply in place."
The $2.7 million is expected to buy a four-month supply of cannabis for Yukon, which has a population of 35,874 people. The supplier has not been announced yet
More pressing issues for the Yukon government come in the form of storage issues, as a facility to house their cannabis has yet to be established. The government is looking into building a warehouse in Marwell, the only place zoned for marijuana sales in Whitehorse (Yukon’s capital city).
Currently, the only bid for the construction of a new warehouse sits at $3.4 million, a price higher then the governments total cannabis budget. Streicker says a new warehouse would be paid for over 20 years, but there is also a Yukon Liquor Corporation warehouse in the area that could be used to store marijuana as well. "What we're working toward making sure ... is that there will be cannabis available for Yukoners by the time it becomes legal. And I don't have a clear answer."
Streicker’s plan is not without its detractors with Wade Istchenko, MLA for Kluane, criticizing the government expenditure on a building worth more than the entire budget, "The Yukon government's plan to grow government by creating a new government-run cannabis corporation has already hit a pothole."
(Editor's note: take a second to recover from that terrible pun.)
Once legalization gets underway in Yukon, cannabis sales will be handled by government stores at first. Streicker said the plan is to transition into the private sector once all of the regulatory kinks are worked out.
"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 for the private sector to come online. While we are working to ensure that cannabis is available for our citizens, we're not trying to commit to long-term to have a store.”