Private retailers can sell cannabis online starting in May, says Yukon gov't

Private retailers will be able to sell cannabis online starting in May, but the Yukon Chamber of Commerce and the Yukon Party also want the government, which is also the wholesaler and distributor of cannabis in the territory, to review the pricing structure.

Opposition and Yukon Chamber also wants gov’t to review pricing structure

Two containers of cannabis affixed with duty paid stickers for Yukon. Private retailers will be able to sell cannabis online staring in May, said the government. (Chris Windeyer/CBC)

The Yukon government says private retailers will be allowed to sell cannabis online starting in May. 

"We're committed to that, and we'll deliver that," said Ranj Pillai, the minister responsible for the Yukon Liquor Commission, in the Legislature Wednesday.

The Yukon Chamber of Commerce and the Yukon Party had been asking the territorial government to level the playing field between the government-run cannabis retailer, which can sell online, and private retailers.

The government had allowed private retailers to make online sales in May 2020 as a way to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic until September 2020, when it withdrew the policy.

At the time, the government said it would bring back legal online sales through an amendment to the territory's Cannabis Control and Regulations Act. The amendments were brought forward during last fall's sitting of the Legislature.

Pricing structure

But the Yukon Chamber of Commerce said the pricing structure in the territory is also a problem for private retailers and is calling on the government to make changes.

"The government is competing with the private sector and also managing the regulations and keeping an unfair playing field where they control both the pricing and the distribution," said Denny Kobayashi, the Yukon Chamber's executive director.

In the Legislature Wednesday, Yukon Party Leader Currie Dixon said the government imposes a distribution markup of 20 per cent, but it also charges handling and stocking fees.

"This means that before the product even arrives on the retailers' shelves, there are significant unnecessary costs to the product," he said.

He asked the government to allow retailers to purchase directly from licensed producers rather than the government.

But Pillai said the government reduced prices by reducing the wholesale markup from 22 per cent to 20 per cent last December.

"We are making sure that retailers have the opportunity to make as much as they possibly can," said Pillai.

With files from Julien Gignac and Sissi De Flaviis