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GNWT issues tenders for new cannabis shops in NWT communities

Marijuana stock photo. Pixabay photo.
Finance Minister George Hickes expressed confidence that cannabis retail shops in communities will reduce "black market" marijuana sales, but he couldn't provide a date when retailers will start operations in Nunavut. Pixabay photo

New weed shops might be on the horizon after the GNWT opened up tenders for five communities outside Yellowknife.

The NWT Liquor and Cannabis Commission (NTLCC) is seeking submissions for the pre-qualification screening process for authorized cannabis retailers in Inuvik, Norman Wells, Fort Simpson, Hay River and Fort Smith, according to posts on Thursday and Friday on the Open NWT portal.

Several companies have already been invited to or shown interest in the tenders, the Planholders Logs show. Submissions for  request for qualifications (RFQs) will be accepted until Dec. 4

At the moment, cannabis can only be purchased from select NTLCC liquor stores in Yellowknife, Norman Wells, Hay River, Fort Smith and Fort Simpson. It can also be purchased online through the NTLCC.

The submission requests come just over three months after the price of legal cannabis was said to have fallen by 10 per cent, a development welcomed by the GNWT as it seeks to eliminate illegal sales.

There are not yet any authorized cannabis-only shops in the NWT.

Yellowknife cannabis accessories shop ReLeaf NT last December was successful in its RFQ submission, the first step in the process to being authorized to sell cannabis products.

Among budding vendors from Yellowknife, Norman Wells and Inuvik who submitted applications last year, ReLeaf co-owners Luke Wood and John Maduke were the only applicants whose submission met the GNWT's requirements, said Todd Sasaki, spokesperson for the GNWT’s Department of Finance.

NNSL Media has inquired with ReLeaf for an update on the progress of their business and is awaiting a response.

Cannabis sales

The most lucrative quarter for cannabis sales was the most recent, which also included the period since the Covid-19 pandemic reached the NWT: from April 2020 until the end of June, just over $1 million worth of cannabis products were purchased, according to quarterly reports from the NTLCC. More than half of those sales were in Yellowknife.

Since recreational cannabis was legalized in Canada on Oct. 17, 2018, about $5.5 million worth of cannabis products have been sold in the NWT.

Dried cannabis is the most popular choice for weed buyers, generating around $4.9 million in sales. Cannabis extracts, such as oils, capsules and edibles comprised the remainder of sales.