Northern Canada: Yukon territory taking applications for marijuana retail licences

Reporters got a tour of the government’s Cannabis Yukon retail shop a day before it opened in October. Currently, only the government can legally sell pot in Yukon. (CBC)
The Yukon government began accepting applications on Wednesday, for private retail cannabis licences.

But applicants in Whitehorse, the territorial capital, will still have to wait for new city zoning bylaws to come into effect, and the Yukon government’s application review process could also take eight to 12 weeks before a licence is granted.

“I would probably surmise that our application is over 300 pages. It’s pretty comprehensive, what they’re looking for,” said Jordi Mikeli-Jones, who co-owns Triple J’s in Whitehorse.

She was the first to drop off her application on Wednesday.

“There were no balloons or confetti or anything — I’ll admit I was hopeful,” she said.

Jordi Mikeli-Jones, who co-owns Triple J’s in Whitehorse, was the first to drop off her application on Wednesday for a licence to sell pot. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

Last month, the government set up a five-person Cannabis Licensing Board to review applications and issue retail licences. The board has the sole authority to determine whether a licence is granted.

Under Yukon’s Cannabis Control and Regulations Act, licence holders will need to have cannabis retail training. That training will be offered by the Yukon Liquor Corporation next month.

Retail stores must also be at least 100 metres away from schools, shelters, addictions treatment centres, playgrounds, and other cannabis retailers.

Private retailers will also have to go through a criminal record check.

The city of Whitehorse will require a 100-metre buffer zone around schools, shelters, and addictions treatment facilities, and children’s parks. (City of Whitehorse)
City zoning amendments

Mikeli-Jones says now she is in a “holding pattern.”

“There are some concerns, in that we’ve just been made aware that no applications for private retail licensing will be granted by the licensing board until such time as the [city] zoning amendments have come to fruition,” she said.

Right now, only the Marwell area of Whitehorse is zoned for cannabis retail sales. That’s where the government’s Cannabis Yukon store is.

“Specifically, we’re looking at, with council, allowing sales of cannabis within our downtown core,” said Mélodie Simard, city manager of planning and sustainability.

She says proposed bylaw amendments will get first reading at city council on Monday. A public hearing is scheduled for Mar. 25, with second and third reading of the bylaw scheduled for April.

‘We’re looking at, with council, allowing sales of cannabis within our downtown core,’ said Mélodie Simard with the City of Whitehorse. (City of Whitehorse)

Simard says in the downtown core, cannabis stores would have to be at least 100 metres apart from each other (roughly, a city block).

Mikeli-Jones says that her new store, Triple J’s Canna Space, will be on Wood Street.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Officials in Canada’s east-Arctic say cannabis legalization is start of longer conversation, CBC News

Finland: Finland’s alcohol consumption declines by 15%, YLE news

United States: Alaska’s drug problem worsening as police resources strained, Alaska Public Media

Mike Rudyk, CBC News

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