Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

PLANNING FOR A NEW ERA – Yukon government representatives present a draft summary of proposed legislation for legalized cannabis in the territory on Thursday afternoon. Left to right: Susan Russell, acting president of the Yukon Liquor Corp.; Laura Lang, policy analyst with the Department of Health and Social Services; Al Lucier, assistant deputy minister of community justice and public safety with the Department of Justice; Patricia Randell, director of cannabis implementation and education with Justice; Lesley McCullough, deputy minister of Justice; Tracy-Anne McPhee, the minister of Justice; Pauline Frost, the minister of Health and Social Services; and John Streicker, the minister of Community Services and the minister responsible for the liquor corporation.

YG clears the air on proposed cannabis rules

What legal recreational cannabis could look like in the Yukon come this summer has become a little less hazy.

By Emily Blake on January 12, 2018

What legal recreational cannabis could look like in the Yukon come this summer has become a little less hazy.

The territorial government presented a summary of its proposed legislation for the Cannabis Control and Regulation Act at a news conference Thursday afternoon.

“The legislation is intended to provide for legal, controlled access to cannabis that displaces illegal and criminal activity and to prioritize public health and harm reduction,” said Community Services Minister John Streicker, who will be responsible for the act once it is passed.

While it’s planned that Yukoners aged 19 and older will be able to legally purchase, possess, cultivate and consume cannabis sometime this July, don’t expect to be inundated with the distinct skunky aroma in public spaces.

The government is proposing limiting cannabis consumption to private residences and yards.

Smoking and vaping the substance will be prohibited in group living facilities along with licensed child care homes like daycares and pre-schools, whether or not a child is present.

It will also not be allowed in the common areas of buildings with multiple units, including hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts.

Adults who live in nursing homes or specialized health care facilities will only be allowed to consume cannabis in designated areas.

And condominiums with applicable bylaws and landlords will also be able to legally prohibit some forms of consumption, similar to tobacco.

“In most cases, landlords are in a position to restrict activities like that that have an impact upon their property,” explained Lesley McCullough, the deputy minister of Justice.

“Where they have a right to make such a limitation, they can choose to do so and exercise it, but it’s very much a case-by-case situation in that respect.”

Keeping with the legal framework released in November 2017, the government also plans to retain the sole authority to import, warehouse, transport and distribute recreational cannabis with the Yukon Liquor Corp. functioning as the distributor corporation.

This means the government will set the price and determine the varieties and brands of the plant more commonly known by colourful monikers including ganja, kush, herb and chronic, that will be available for sale.

“As we think about pricing, we will be thinking about our goals; harm reduction and displacing the illicit trade,” said Streicker.

Potential pricing and the percentage of profits that will go toward municipalities is still under consideration, he noted.

At first, there will only be one retail cannabis store in the territory, anticipated for a location somewhere in the Marwell industrial area of Whitehorse.

But those outside the city looking to get their hands on the “devil’s lettuce” won’t be left out.

They can purchase cannabis from the distributor corporation online. To prevent it from getting in the hands of youth, purchasers must verify their identity and age to an agent upon delivery.

“It’s based on a system that’s occurred for quite a long time in Ontario with respect to mail order alcohol, and it’s been quite effective there with respect to servicing communities,” explained Justice Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee.

The proposed act also makes way for future regulations that will allow for private retailers to sell cannabis, similar to the sale of alcohol at off-sales outlets.

Details on what those regulations may include, like siting restrictions, are still under review.

When that time comes, the government proposes a licensing process involving the distributor corporation and a Cannabis Licensing Board, for those interested in becoming commercial retailers.

This board will be made up of five members appointed by the Yukon government for three year terms. It will have the authority to issue, refuse, cancel and suspend licences.

When reviewing licence applications, the board will consider the number and type of licences already in an area, as well as population, economic benefits and public views.

For commercial purposes, only producers licensed under the federal act may grow cannabis.

But for personal use, a maximum of four plants may be permitted at any one dwelling house out of public sight.

And when it comes to possession in public, it will be limited to 30 grams of dried cannabis flowers, also known as marijuana, or equivalent forms of the substance.

According to schedule 3 of the federal Cannabis Act, 30 grams of marijuana are equal to 150 grams of fresh cannabis, 2,100 grams of a liquid product like oil and 30 cannabis plant seeds.

Possession in a vehicle will be prohibited unless it is in a closed container and inaccessible to all people in the vehicle.

And anyone in possession of cannabis must also take reasonable measures to ensure young people cannot access it.

Pauline Frost, the minister of Health and Social Services, noted that the proposed legislation, which centres on the government’s “cautious approach”, focuses on protecting youth and safety.

“We are focusing on protecting youth from the negative health effects associated with cannabis consumption,” Frost said.

She said the government is engaging with youth across the territory and plans to launch an ongoing health and education campaign targeted at youth and their families.

“We want to ensure that our young people know about the risks that come with using cannabis and that they can make educated, informed decisions about when if ever they choose to use cannabis.”

Finally, the draft summary details the Yukon government’s plan for enforcement.

It says penalties for breaching the act will depend on the seriousness of the offence.

There is the expectation that offences like the large sale of cannabis without a licence will incur significant penalties while offences like public consumption by an adult will carry a standard fine.

If a person is convicted of an offence, any cannabis seized will be forfeited to the Yukon government.

And, similar to alcohol, those intoxicated in public can be taken into custody by a peace officer instead of being charged.

“This is really a safety protection section and not a punitive section in any way,” explained Al Lucier, an assistant deputy Justice minister and a former RCMP member in the Yukon.

“It gives way to sort of the officer’s ability to give the protection to the public and to that individual if they’re showing gross intoxication so as they’re not going to have a danger of falling down in a snow bank at 40 below.”

The government also notes that at the federal level, the Liberals are proposing changes to the Criminal Code.

The territory’s proposed legislation is in anticipation of the Trudeau government’s promise to pass federal legislation legalizing cannabis sometime this July. The original 
Canada Day implementation date has been scrapped.

The Yukon act has to be tabled within the first five days of the start of the 2018 spring sitting of the legislature, which will begin March 1.

“I want to stress that the legislation is still being drafted, and we are looking forward to hearing again from Yukoners on their views on this proposed legislation,” said McPhee.

The Yukon Party has said they plan on carefully reviewing the summary, focusing on supporting the private sector, taxation and enforcement provisions.

More information on the proposed legislation is available at engage yukon.ca/en/2017/cannabis-legalization and the government is accepting feedback via email at cannabis@gov.yk.ca until February 12.

Comments (23)

Up 0 Down 0

john henry on Jan 22, 2018 at 10:43 am

Really, I don't care who smokes pot it is your business, but smoking 50 joints a day, then smiling at the moon all night then you're burnt out, not only that, pot smells like sh**.

Up 0 Down 0

ProScience Greenie on Jan 18, 2018 at 9:23 pm

You need to get with the times Bobby Bitman... gender isn't just male or female, it is a spectrum. Same with gender descriptors.

Shocking to see yesterday's progressives turning into today's finger-wagging social conservatives.

Up 2 Down 2

Hannimal on Jan 18, 2018 at 11:43 am

Hey there Beyond PO'ed and to your other brother Fed Up And PO'ed, you both should really pay attention to ProScience Greenies comment. I can picture the two of you being small people driving your big trucks.

Up 3 Down 2

Captain Obvious on Jan 18, 2018 at 10:11 am

If you don't like pot, don't smoke pot. But don't hamper those of us who want to consume it legally, under a GOOD FRAMEWORK. One of the problems that framework is being shaped with opinions of people who flat out don't want it legalized, and are doing a pretty efficient job about rendering it ineffective.

Don't worry. We have time that many of you don't! I'm personally going to make it my life's goal to make Preparation H illegal. You be a pain in our a•• for these many years; we're happy to return the favour.

Up 3 Down 1

woodcutter on Jan 18, 2018 at 9:33 am

to smoke and smell
Allergic to smoke, and you live in Whitehorse?

Up 3 Down 1

Herb Grolewegen on Jan 17, 2018 at 9:58 pm

If my neighbours found the smell of smoking pot offensive to them, I could just blow it in a garbage bag to mitigate most of the problem which I think is largely imagined. I mean if you're over in your backyard making a loud mouthed alcoholic fool out of yourself while barbecuing I just go inside or elsewhere. I don't have to but, I do because I realize that loud mouthed juice stars quiet down quickly when they don't have an audience to listen to their foolery. Mellow out and keep your lousy music down too, would yah?

Up 3 Down 3

Bobby Bitman on Jan 17, 2018 at 4:01 pm

Just finished reading the comments. Beyond PO'd is comedic! I honestly started laughing. Good one. I actually copied and pasted it for posterity.
"there's going to be no holds barred if any of my loser doper neighbours stink up my yard!"

Straight out of Trailer Park Boys. I think this person's real name is Mr. Lahey.

Up 2 Down 3

Bobby Bitman on Jan 17, 2018 at 3:54 pm

Proscience Greenie equates 'effeminate' with 'weakling'.
"effeminate: showing characteristics regarded as typical of a woman; unmanly."

It will be nice when one day, 'characteristics regarded as typical of a woman', will not used as an insult, or equated with weak.

Up 5 Down 2

quite the opportunity for first nations land holders in the area on Jan 16, 2018 at 3:26 pm

Why is the sale being limited to one area?
Easy to monitor usage?
Provides FN a chance to sell their land for grow op space?
What about the hemp shop and all of those companies that actually fought and participated in the debates?

Now the FN get PRIME real estate sale; hilarious

People have been setting up for years. I was interested in renting the old Sally Ann and placing it as a grow op/cafe.
Thanks for shutting down private sector business

Up 2 Down 3

ProScience Greenie on Jan 16, 2018 at 12:49 pm

Don't worry about me Beyond PO’ed, I've always been discrete and respectful to my neighbors with pretty much everything and will continue to be when the good herb is legal.

Be careful though, you may find out when weed is legal that many who enjoy it aren't effeminate liberal voting weakling potheads but rather rough and tough rednecks conservatives that will stand their ground.

Up 4 Down 3

Smoke 'n Smell on Jan 16, 2018 at 12:03 am

I'm allergic to all kinds of smoke, and the smell of pot is so offensive that I literally become puking sick. Thankfully, bus rides with stinking passengers are relatively short. Summertime drive-by vehicles with open windows really spoil a walk.

Up 3 Down 3

Beyond PO’ed on Jan 15, 2018 at 9:40 pm

Science greenie, I’ll tell you and anyone else reading this straight up that there’s going to be no holds barred war if any of my loser doper neighbours stink up my yard with weed. If anyone wants to make themselves trouble they’ll find it big time if they stink up my yard. So maybe all you stoned tweakers who think this is such a great idea better think twice about who your neighbours are and keep your weed stench to yourself.

Up 3 Down 0

Job applications ... on Jan 15, 2018 at 8:28 pm

Hey! I haven't seen any postings yet for the new 'cannabis' department, hadn't they better get on it? Oh wait, of course, recruiting from within ... all the expertise they need, LOL.

Up 6 Down 1

Fredia on Jan 15, 2018 at 4:52 pm

I predict that the Canadian Firearm Registry fiasco will pale in comparison to the quagmire resulting from the legalization of cannabis.

Up 8 Down 0

Groucho d'North on Jan 15, 2018 at 2:08 pm

I'm curious how authorities will determine what was bought at the Government store and what was bought in the illicit market. A bag of herb looks like most other bags of herb. Same for the seeds for the do it yourself herbalists. How to determine what is legal and what comes from the black market? We are living in interesting times and I feel for the RCMP who will be caught in the middle of these enforcement arguments.

Up 5 Down 3

ProScience Greenie on Jan 15, 2018 at 12:32 pm

Hey fed up, the vegans probably say the same thing about their neighbors burning raw meat on the bbq on the deck next door. Or the guy on his deck with a glass of whiskey and a big fat cigar. Or that person idling their diesel truck for hours on end. Or dude with the loud mufflered Harley. At the end of the day most Yukoners are decent people and probably will be more considerate than not as long as their neighbors are also decent. If not call the cops and take it from there whether it's weed, tobacco, noise pollution or whatever.

We may see a few 'pot parties' in the first few weeks of legalization in Canada but the most likely scenario is that like Colorado and Alaska things will smooth out and a year or so after nobody will even think about it.

Up 4 Down 2

ProScience Greenie on Jan 15, 2018 at 11:41 am

The government is proposing limiting cannabis consumption to private residences and yards.
Not going to work. No way many won't toke around the campfire on a canoe trip, walking out on the trail or anything similar. The Libs better fix this flaw now... or we'll see them in court.

Otherwise, all good, not the end of the world. Carry on.

Up 4 Down 3

Fed Up And PO'ed on Jan 15, 2018 at 11:05 am

So it will be allowed in private residences and yards eh? So when I'm out in my back yard or on my deck I'm going to be forced to put up with the clouds of weed smoke drifting over the fence from the stoners next door who are going to be more than happy to have a dozen people over for weed parties in their back yard. What about my and my young children's rights not to be exposed to marijuana smoke on our private premises? Do we have to stay indoors and not enjoy our back yard Friday nights in order to not be exposed to secondhand weed smoke?

Up 0 Down 1

Herb Couch on Jan 14, 2018 at 8:02 pm

The Government of Yukon welcomes comments from all Yukoners on the draft legislative summary. Please send any comments or feedback to cannabis@gov.yk.ca by February 12, 2018.

Up 2 Down 4

Louyse on Jan 14, 2018 at 5:35 am

That must be a typo with the possession of "21,000 grams" of a liquid product like oil, that is a mighty big jug!? This is really incredible that this is all actually really happening, I am so glad to experience this! I am sure each territory and province will be able to pull themselves out of debt. And the world will be that small bit happier, less crime, more Peace and Love.
It will still be so strange to smoke a reefer in public. How about the line up at the store, we will have to go early, it will be like going to the grocery store, best visits with old friends.

Up 5 Down 3

Tina on Jan 13, 2018 at 5:10 pm

My biggest concerns are having to smell and inhale the smoke wherever I go as well as the driving while stoned. I think that as long as this is treated the same as alcohol and tobacco, it could work, but I also think there's going to be a large problem at the beginning. As with anything, used with respect for others is the big thing and if that is kept in mind we will all be okay. This is not just about people having the right to use, but also about the people that don't like it and them not having to be exposed to it everywhere they go.

Up 5 Down 1

jc on Jan 12, 2018 at 9:30 pm

And I'm sure the lawyers and judges are already trying to figure out ways to toss out many of these conditions. I can almost hear already the "not guilty" verdicts coming in. And eventually the cops will just give up on the whole issue.

Up 3 Down 2

BB on Jan 12, 2018 at 3:53 pm

Well thought out. Looks good to me. I am impressed. This coming from a person who is very open minded and supportive of legalized marijuana, and who has fought in my own ways for it, for 30 or so years. I can't believe it. Another big milestone! Legalized marijuana. When it finally happens, it happens fast.

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