North

Legal cannabis just got 10% cheaper in the N.W.T.

The territory says it slashed prices in an effort to curb sales on the illicit market, nearly two years into legalization.

Territory's cannabis revenue underperformed expectations since legalization

A woman takes a look at the cannabis offerings at the Yellowknife liquor store on 49th Street. The N.W.T. Liquor and Cannabis Commission announced a 10 per cent cut to the price of all cannabis products on Tuesday. (Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi/CBC)

The N.W.T. government has cut the price of legal cannabis products by 10 per cent, a move the finance minister says is part of an effort to curb sales on the illicit market.

In a news release announcing the decision Tuesday, the territorial government said it's "confident it can reduce the price while maintaining a safe and secure retail regime." 

"The Government of the Northwest Territories is committed to eliminating the illegal sale of cannabis by providing residents with legal access to safe and secure products. Today's announcement is one of many steps that need to be taken to accomplish this goal," Finance Minister Caroline Wawzonek said in a statement. 

The government, via the Northwest Territories Liquor and Cannabis Commission, is the only legal supplier of cannabis in the territory.

Dried buds, seeds, capsules and oils are sold at five liquor stores across the territory and online through the commission's website.

Prices for legal cannabis in the N.W.T. have historically been significantly higher than averages on the illegal pot market, at more than $14 per gram on average. Statistics Canada estimates the illegal market average across Canada is $10 per gram.

Critics have said the higher price, combined with a limited online selection and few places to purchase in-store, limit the effect of legalization on the illicit market.

The release sent Tuesday says after nearly two years of legalization, the government has a better understanding of the operating costs associated with the distribution and sale of cannabis.

In the first year after legalization, the territory fell short of its revenue targets for legal cannabis by 80 per cent, generating just over half a million dollars in profit. Its online store, which sells just three varieties of cannabis, lost $136,000 last year.

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