North

Cannabis and your community: Pot law committee to make whirlwind N.W.T. tour

Community consultations on the territory’s new marijuana legislation will kick off next week, the government announced on Friday.

MLAs say age limit, retail and policing of pot up for discussion

The whirlwind tour will see MLAs from two committees visit 16 communities in 11 days. (David Donnelly/CBC)

Community consultations on the territory's new marijuana legislation will kick off next week, the Northwest Territories government announced Friday.

The whirlwind tour will see MLAs from two committees visit 16 communities in 11 days.

The Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Implementation Act, or Bill 6, is currently under review by the standing committees on social development and government operations.

Nahendeh MLA Shane Thompson said he wants to see a budget that supports intake to the social work and teacher education programs at Aurora College. (Randall McKenzie/CBC)

MLAs and committee chairs Shane Thompson and Kieron Testart plan to use the community consultations to determine their final recommendations on the bill.

"Now that the government has actually come forward with something concrete, we need to hear from people about how those actual rules are going to affect their communities," said Testart.

Testart said the "exhaustive travel" in a short time period is to meet an old federal deadline of July 1. The expected date of legalization has since been pushed back.

'Nobody seems to be prepared': MLA

Additional funding for policing and public health in the communities may not come until after the territory's marijuana act is passed, according to Testart.

Thompson said he's already hearing from communities and government officials that the territory is not ready for legalization.

Kam Lake MLA Kieron Testart says the 'exhaustive travel' in a short time period is to meet an old federal deadline of July 1. (Jimmy Thomson/CBC)

"We've been advocating and asking the questions behind the doors and on the floors," said Thompson. "What are you doing? How are you prepared for this? And nobody seems to be prepared."

Testart said the consultations are a chance to speak with those most affected by some of the bill's provisions.

"What's being currently proposed is quite a punitive system on young people, and I think we really need to hear from them," said Testart.

He also suggested regulations regarding the sale of marijuana could change to allow independent and small businesses to participate.

Even the age limit, currently 19, could be up for review, according to Thompson.

Community consultation sessions will be divided between a northern group of five MLAs, led by Testart, and a southern group, led by Thompson.

Included in the schedule are planned visits to schools to speak to young people. The exact locations have not been confirmed. 

The schedule for consultations is:

  • April 23:
    • Fort McPherson – community centre (6:30 - 8:30 p.m.)
    • Fort Resolution – Antoine Beaulieu Memorial Hall (3:30 - 5:30 p.m.)
  • April 24: 
    • ​Tsiigehtchic – Tsiigehtchic Gymnasium (12 - 1:30 p.m.)
    • Fort Providence – community hall (7 - 9 p.m.)
    • Kakisa (TBA)
  • April 25: 
    • ​Deline – Sahcho Cultural Centre ( 7 - 9 p.m.)
    • Fort Providence schools (TBA)
  • April 26:
    • Lutselk'e – Zah Lockhart Hall (11 - 2:30 p.m.)
    • Yellowknife schools (TBA)
  • April 27: 
    • ​Behchoko sportsplex (12 - 1:30 p.m.)
    • Gameti government hall (3 - 6 p.m.)
  • April 30: Inuvik and Fort Liard (TBA)
  • May 1: Ulukhaktok and Sambaa K'e (TBA)
  • May 2: Tuktoyaktuk and Hay River (TBA)
  • May 3: Inuvik schools (TBA)

For details on time and specific locations, check the Legislative Assembly's website here.

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