Nunavut prepares to permit physical cannabis stores

Applications for cannabis retail licences will be accepted, starting June 1

The Government of Nunavut is preparing to allow businesses within the territory to sell recreational cannabis.

Starting June 1, the GN will begin accepting applications for cannabis retail licence applications to operate physical cannabis stores and online stores in Nunavut.

“Allowing licensed private businesses to import and sell cannabis will give Nunavummiut more access to safer legal recreational cannabis,” the government said in a news release on Tuesday, May 19.

“The licensing regime includes strict rules to combat the illegal market and protect Nunavut’s youth. Nunavut’s cannabis legislation and regulations have a broad range of requirements that licensed cannabis retailers must follow.”

Currently, Nunavut only permits two companies—Canopy Growth and AgMedica Bioscience—to sell cannabis to residents through online sales.

When Nunavut passed its cannabis legislation, officials decided to take a gradual approach to legalization and not immediately allow physical stores to open.

Nunavut’s cannabis laws also require community consultation before any kind of local licence can be approved.

Iqaluit’s mayor, Kenny Bell, recently called for the Government of Nunavut to allow a cannabis retail store to open in the territory’s capital.

Nunavut will allow several kinds of cannabis retail operations. It is offering two kinds of licences: physical cannabis stores and remote sales.

Nunavut’s licensing system envisions two different kinds of physical stores selling cannabis, according to a government fact sheet.

“Enclosed cannabis stores” are standalone buildings or stores within an existing commercial space, with walls and a door to prevent the entry of minors. Employees in these stores will be allowed to show customers “sensory display items”—small jars of cannabis for customers to see and smell—and to discuss product information.

Nunavut will also allow for “integrated cannabis stores” within existing retail stores, which will be accessed by residents through a window, kiosk or check-out counter. All cannabis products and accessories must be kept locked and out of sight at these locations. Staff may only sell products from a price list, once a customer has shown proof they are over 19. These stores are prohibited from using any advertising or promotional materials under federal law.

Remote sales licences allow businesses within the territory to sell cannabis online or over the phone and ship orders to any Nunavut community. Cannabis stores will be able to hold more than one kind of licence, so a physical store may also be able to sell cannabis remotely.

A community consultation process will happen once a licence application clears an initial review to show whether the eligibility requirements have been met, according to the government fact sheet.

“Local municipal councils will be asked to provide input and community members will also have the opportunity to provide feedback. Information will be posted throughout the community, and community radio and social media will be used to inform Nunavummiut that an application to open a cannabis store in their community has been received. Feedback can be sent to the Office of the Superintendent by email, phone, mail or through local Government Liaison Officers (GLOs).

“All consultation feedback will be compiled into a report and will be considered by the Minister before making a decision on whether or not to issue a licence. Communities will also be able to provide further restrictions through zoning bylaws and business licensing.”