A Whitehorse business owner hopes the Yukon government won't keep a monopoly on sales when cannabis is made legal.
Jeremy Jones, co-owner of Triple J's Music, Tattoos & Piercing in Whitehorse, says he's been preparing for years to open a dispensary.
He's asking Yukoners to voice their support for private retailers, to the Yukon government.
"Having that monopoly is not in the best interest ... even a pilot project — let us run the first private sales. We're ready, we've done the research, we've developed the manuals and procedures and we're ready to go," he said.
Public comments on legalization are being accepted by the Yukon government until Dec. 20.
Retailer submitting 100-page 'policy document'
Jones says he's more prepared than the average vendor. He's already taken courses through two online schools, dealing with cannabis legalization and business practices.
One is a Colorado school called THC University. The school opened in 2012, and is trying to establish standards for professional accreditation in the U.S. legal marijuana market.
The other is called The Medical Cannabis Institute. Its course credits are recognized by the American Medical Association.
Jones is submitting what he calls a 100-page policy document to the Yukon government, detailing how his proposed business would operate.
He argues it would be as secure as a government-run store.
"What we'd anticipate is having strict identification, security protocols — so it wouldn't be just open access to the public. We would have security on staff, we would have display cases with display amounts of product, and then have a secure area on the back where orders are filled," he said.
Yukon government's retail rules not written
It's still unclear if retailers like Jones will get their chance.
The Yukon government's framework document on legalization released in November says the government "would have the sole authority to import, warehouse, transport and otherwise distribute recreational cannabis within Yukon for commercial purposes."
It adds that the government requires "additional time to develop regulations, including a licensing system for private retail."
No plans yet for lounges or cafés
One question not yet answered by the Yukon government is where people would be allowed to consume pot.
Yukon's policy framework says marijuana consumption will only be allowed in private homes, "while providing for the potential to allow consumption in other spaces in the future."
Jones's business plan for a dispensary wouldn't allow consumption on site. He says on-site consumption adds legal problems that are not yet resolved.
"[With a lounge], you gotta worry about things like second-hand smoke," he says. "We're not looking at vape lounges now, but in the future that is, of course, a possibility. "
However the idea of a cannabis café or "vape lounge" in Whitehorse is being pursued by another entrepreneur, William Huebschwerlen, who owns the Northern Hempisphere store on Main Street.
Gov't pledges to open online and retail store
The Yukon government has pledged to open its own marijuana store and online store by next summer.
The territory's justice minister has called it a "first phase," which is intended to make legal marijuana available when federal legalization is enacted on July 1.
This story has been updated to more accurately reflect the online courses taken by Jones.Dec 13, 2017 1:03 PM CT