Yukon's first private pot shop could open next week

A Whitehorse couple's plans to open a store cleared another hurdle on Monday, when Whitehorse city council passed bylaws to allow retail sales of cannabis in parts of the downtown area. 

Whitehorse city council passed bylaws Monday to allow legal marijuana sales downtown

Jordi Mikeli-Jones, left, and Jeremy Jones speak to reporters on Monday, after Whitehorse city council cleared the way for private retailers to sell legal cannabis downtown. (Dave Croft/CBC)

The Whitehorse couple aiming to open Yukon's first privately-run cannabis shop hope to be in business by next week.

Jordi Mikeli-Jones and Jeremy Jones's plans cleared another hurdle on Monday, when Whitehorse city council passed two bylaws to allow retail sales of cannabis in parts of the downtown area. 

The couple have been working for the past three years towards opening Triple J's Canna Space cannabis store in the downtown, and Mikeli-Jones said after Monday's council meeting that they're almost there.

"What's next is we need to get our licence and we're hopeful to have that by the 15th, and we are aiming to open for the 17th — next Wednesday," said Mikeli-Jones.

"So, in advance of 420." 

Four-twenty is a term referring to cannabis use and April 20, which became an annual day of demonstrations for people active in the legalization movement.

The couple has purchased the old Yukon News building at 211 Wood Street and hired 12 employees to work in sales, the dispensary and reception, Mikeli-Jones said.

Triple J's Canna Space will be in the old Yukon News newspaper building at 211 Wood Street. (Dave Croft/CBC)

She submitted her retail application to Yukon's Cannabis Licensing Board about seven weeks ago.

The initial application fee is $2,050. There is an ongoing annual fee of $2,150. The Yukon Liquor Board's website said those fees are to cover the cost of licensing and enforcing regulations.

The site says two companies, Triple J's Canna and Ninetails Cannabis, have applications before the board. Ninetails is proposing a shop at 204 Main Street.

 A Yukon Liquor Corporation spokesperson can't say if there are other applications that haven't yet reached the stage of being on the public record. But John Streicker, the minister responsible for the Yukon Liquor Board, said last week there were three retail applications before the board, one of them from outside of Whitehorse.

The Yukon government plans to close its own Cannabis Yukon shop in Whitehorse once private retailers are established. (The Associated Press)

Streicker said Monday private retail sales of cannabis will mark the beginning of the end for the government-owned cannabis store in Whitehorse's Marwell area.

"I hope towards the end of this year, or this fall in 2019, that we would be closing down our store," he said.

Streicker said the closing will be based on when private retail becomes established.

Bylaw sets closing hours

City council made two changes to the bylaws it passed Monday.

One is a ban on any cannabis shops in the largely residential area west of Fourth Avenue and south of Main Street.

Councillors also voted to restrict opening hours of any pot shop to between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m. The proposed bylaw had suggested a 2 a.m. closing time.

Whitehorse city council voted to limit the hours that a cannabis store can be open to 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.. (Dave Croft/CBC)

Jeremy Jones said the earlier closing time makes sense.

"We can't legally sell to people who are impaired," said Jones.

"So, as soon as you start getting into those later hours, that means we are going to be busy denying people most of the time — so it's really not worth the time and effort."


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