Want to open a cannabis shop in Whitehorse? It'll cost at least $2,000 for the licence to do it

Cannabis stores in Whitehorse will have to provide proof of security measures, won’t be allowed to show any products or advertisements for cannabis outside their premises and business hours will be limited to 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

City council passes bylaw amendment to set business licence fees for cannabis shops

People who want to sell cannabis in Whitehorse after legalization will have to pay at least $2,000 for a business licence and adhere to a list of strict regulations. (David Zalubowski/Associated Press)

It will cost a pretty penny for a retail licence to sell cannabis in Whitehorse.

Councillors at Monday's city council meeting passed a new regulation that stipulates a fee of at least $2,000 for a business licence to sell cannabis. Other yearly business licences start at $160.

According to the city council agenda, administration says the money will offset a number of costs the city anticipates will come with granting businesses licences to sell cannabis. These include the costs of reviewing and processing applications, criminal records checks, security plans, zoning analyses and "periodic enforcement checks on the business operations for compliance with municipal legislation."

Coun. Betty Irwin was the only councillor on Monday to speak out against such a high charge.

"I do object to the $2,000 licensing for the cannabis retail stores when the stores become available," she said, pointing to a discrepancy between that licence fee and business licences to sell other restricted products.

"And perhaps I missed it, but I didn't see where the off-sale [liquor] stores and pawn shops are charged more than other retail establishments."

Regulations set limited business hours

City council unanimously passed two other cannabis related bylaws — one to include definitions of cannabis and grow operations, and another to set strict rules for cannabis retailers.

Stores will have to provide proof of security measures, won't be allowed to show any products or advertisements that show cannabis consumption outside their premises, and business hours will be limited to 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

In the city's agenda, notes from a previous meeting include mention that some on council questioned the rigid rules and suggested they are discriminatory toward those in the cannabis business.

City officials responded they want to dip their toes before they dive in.

"Administration advised that the amendments are proposed so that the city is prepared to deal with this new type of business," states the document.

"Once the Yukon regulations are in place and cannabis-related businesses have been established by the private sector, there may be reasons for future changes to the bylaw."

Cannabis becomes legal in Canada on Oct. 17.

With files from Alexandra Byers​