We need a Cannabis Act of the Yukon, says justice minister

Justice Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee says it's likely distribution will initially be handled by the territorial government, with 'phased-in' plans for retail sales.

Territory needs to sift through 3,000 responses to government survey on cannabis

Justice Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee says part of the work will be drafting laws and regulations for pot catered to the territory. (Wayne Vallevand/CBC)

The Yukon government says it has a lot of work to do in order to be ready for cannabis legalization next summer.

Premier Sandy Silver told the legislature Wednesday that while he can't say definitively just who will be selling pot by next summer, it will be available legally in the territory.

"At the bare minimum, we will have at least a source locally. Whether that be a liquor store, whether that be private sector, whether it's a hybrid — all of those parts are not figured out yet," said Silver.

Speaking with reporters after question period, Justice Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee says a lot hinges on Ottawa's timetable.

But she says the territory has much work to do in the meantime — including sifting through 3,000 responses to a government survey this summer on cannabis.

"It's a tremendous amount of work, because we have to look at the concept of what Yukoners have said in the survey, we have to look at what they say."

McPhee says part of the work will be drafting laws and regulations catered to the territory.

The federal government has promised that Canadians will be able to legally order cannabis by mail by July 2018. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

"We need our own legislation. We probably need a Cannabis Act of the Yukon of some version, and we're still trying to decide how that should look."

McPhee says regulations likely won't be ready by July to govern retail cannabis shops, adding that distribution will probably be up to the territorial government.  

"We are working on a phased-in approach, which is 'let's get the legislation, let's figure out what needs to be in that, let's figure out how Yukoners can access cannabis once it's legal here in Canada, and what does that look like here in the territory?'"

McPhee says national changes to the Criminal Code will affect the impaired driving law now on the books.

"And we will need to make sure that we can enforce those laws here in the territory — [what] the effect will be here, and how we can manage to enforce the law here."

McPhee says the federal legislation will guide age limits and concepts of distribution. She says licensing who can grow cannabis is also a federal responsibility.

The federal government has promised that Canadians will be able to legally order cannabis by mail by July 2018. 

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