Sara Murphy disagrees with the NWT government’s plan to sell marijuana in liquor stores. Brendan Burke/NNSL photo

The GNWT has unveiled its plan for regulating recreational cannabis once the substance is legalized across the country next July.

But not everyone agrees with what the document, released Friday, proposes.

“I think it’s a terrible, terrible idea to put liquor and marijuana in the same place together, in the same way tobacco and liquor should not be put together,” said Yellowknife resident Sara Murphy.

Murphy is working on creating a shop for cannabis accessories and hopes to eventually open a dispensary and become a licensed producer.

She disagreed with the GNWT’s plan to sell marijuana in liquor stores, which the government says will have experience with safe “store front” retail of controlled substances.

“When you smoke marijuana and you also consume alcohol, all of the other symptoms are heightened,” said Murphy. “I believe that it’s pretty self-destructive if you’re going to be doing them both together. To put liquor and marijuana in the same store together promotes this.”

The GNWT is opting to give the NWT Liquor Commission responsibility for the importation and sale of cannabis.

But Murphy said she believes she should be able to buy from a licensed cannabis producer and sell the product separately.

The government says cannabis will “initially” be sold through liquor stores but there will be no restrictions preventing “the future sale of cannabis in ‘cannabis only’ stores.”

There was little clarity in the timeline about when businesses would be able to open shop, however.

Kam Lake MLA Kieron Testart pointed out on Twitter on Friday that the plan also fails to address supply management and production.

Many people will be excited, however, to see NWT communities will be given the option to hold a plebiscite on whether to restrict or prohibit cannabis, just like with alcohol.

A number of residents have expressed concerns the legalization of marijuana could compound already existing social problems and addictions.

“I think it’s a very good approach,” said Nahendeh MLA Shane Thompson, who added legalization could impact community safety and wellbeing. “At the end of the day, it’s allowing the communities to have a voice in how they want to be respected and how they want to deal with the matter.”

But he expressed some concern about the territorial government’s plan to allow smoking in some public places.

The GNWT suggests residents should be allowed to smoke cannabis on their private property, trails, highways, roads, streets and parks, as long as they aren’t being used for public events or if there is a bylaw preventing it.

“That’s going to be a challenge,” said Thompson. “What you do in your home should be allowed as long as it’s legal … but in public spaces, that’s going to be something that could be a big issue for people.”

The GWNT expects to introduce cannabis legislation during the next sitting of the legislative assembly, which runs from February to March.

Fact File: The rules for weed

– Age restriction of at least 19 for purchase, consumption, possession of cannabis

– Possession limit of 30 grams of dried cannabis or equivalent in public

– Liquor Commission responsible for importation and sale

– Will initially be sold through liquor stores

– Legislation will not restrict future “cannabis-only” stores

– Cannabis smoking permitted in private residences and some public spaces such as trails, highways, roads and parks when there are no public events occurring or bylaws prohibit cannabis smoking

– Grow limit of four plants per household

– Community plebiscite option

– Novice drivers, drivers age 21 and under and commercial drivers restricted from having any cannabis in system when driving vehicle

– New drug-impaired driving penalties underway

– Workers Safety and Compensation Commission (WSCC) to review health and safety regulations


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