Community consultations on legal weed coming to Nunavut in January

Nunavut’s new finance minister says the territorial election is the reason Nunavut will be the last jurisdiction to announce a plan for legalizing cannabis, but preparations will move ahead in the new year.

David Akeeagok says Nunavut may model its plan on the N.W.T.'s

Nunavut's Finance Minister David Akeeagok. (David Gunn/CBC)

Nunavut's new finance minister says the territorial election is the reason Nunavut will be the last jurisdiction to announce a plan for legalizing cannabis, but preparations will move ahead in the new year.

David Akeeagok told CBC that consultations in the communities will begin in January, though exact dates have yet to be confirmed.

The federal government will legalize marijuana on July 1, so the provinces and territories have until then to determine the finer details, including setting the legal age and amounts for possession. 

"As a result of the elections, everything's been delayed — that's the nature of elections," Akeeagok said.

Akeeagok attended an end of year meeting with federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau and his provincial and territorial counterparts this week, where they agreed that the provinces and territories will get 75 per cent of tax revenue from legal weed.

As for how much money that means for Nunavut, Akeeagok says they don't know yet.

"We've been trying to model it. Basically we don't know how much cannabis is going into the communities and into the cities. Until we know that, then we'll have a better sense," he said.

No timeline for a plan

Several jurisdictions have already announced whether cannabis will be sold by the private sector or the government. 

Akeeagok says he believes Nunavut will probably be most closely modelled after the N.W.T. because its liquor distribution system is the most similar.

The N.W.T. system is government-controlled and communities will be able to hold a plebiscite to prohibit cannabis in their community, much the same as alcohol is handled now.

Nunavut has compiled the results from an online, and in-person, public survey it ran this summer on feelings toward marijuana and Akeeagok says the data will be released shortly.

There is currently no timeline for introducing legislation.