Yukon government to control pot distribution, legal age will be 19

Yukoners will be able to buy legal marijuana on July 1, the territorial government says. A proposed framework for legal pot in Yukon was presented on Monday.

The territorial government released its proposed framework for legal marijuana on Monday

'It's important to recognize that the proposed framework represents a starting point. The system is designed to be able to adapt as we learn more about the best approach for the Yukon territory,' said Justice Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee. (CBC)

The Yukon government will alone control the import and distribution of legal marijuana in the territory, and set the legal age for buying, using or growing pot at 19.

Justice Minister Tracey-Anne McPhee and Health Minister Pauline Frost announced the government's planned framework legislation for pot, on Monday.

"We've heard what you had to say and we've taken that into consideration," Frost said, referring to a government-conducted survey on legal pot, earlier his year.

The proposed Yukon legislation aligns with the federal government's plans to cap the possession limit for pot at 30 grams, and limit the number of plants you can grow at home, to four. 

Under the territory's proposed framework legislation, Yukoners would be allowed to grow up to four marijuana plants per household. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

The territorial government would control the import, warehousing and transport of marijuana in Yukon, but McPhee said there could be a mix of government and private retail stores.

Pot will not be sold alongside alcohol, however. The law would prohibit cannabis sales from retail locations where alcohol is sold.

According to McPhee, Yukoners will be able to buy marijuana starting July 1, when the federal legislation takes effect. The government is looking to have at least one retail store open in Yukon by then, or allow online sales.

"Our proposed approach acknowledges the need for additional time to develop regulations, including a licensing system for private retail that will reflect Yukon's interests and values," McPhee said.

"It's important to recognize that the proposed framework represents a starting point. The system is designed to be able to adapt as we learn more about the best approach for the Yukon territory."

Prioritizing public health, harm reduction

Yukon is taking a "cautious" approach to legal pot, a government statement says. The territory's laws will "prioritize public health, safety and harm reduction, with a focus on protecting youth from negative health effects."

Minister Frost said Yukon has the highest rate of cannabis use in Canada, and students in the territory are more likely to have used it in the last month than other Canadian students.

"These same students tell us that Yukon youth do not perceive cannabis as risky. Clearly, we have a lot of work ahead of us to change these perceptions," Frost said.

The proposed framework is open for public comment until Dec. 20.

With files from Philippe Morin


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