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Given the extremely short time frame to legalization, the NWT Liquor Commission has to ensure that retail infrastructure is in place to accommodate the sale of cannabis in a regulated environment. It is for this reason that initially cannabis will only be available through NWT liquor stores and online.
The Cannabis Products Act allows for the establishment of private cannabis retailers in communities across the NWT, provided that these retailers meet a set of established criteria. These criteria will be finalized no later than December 2018. Once the criteria have been developed, private retailers will be able to apply for a license to sell cannabis legally.
NWT liquor stores will stock cannabis products based on consumer demand and the legal supply that is available. Whole flower, ground flower, pre-rolled cannabis, some oil products and seeds will be available for sale. Seedlings will not be available for sale.
If a store does not have a certain product in stock, customers will be able to request it. Store operators can order the product from the NWT Liquor Commission, as long as it is available from a legal supplier. Consumers will also have the ability to order cannabis products online.
The federal Cannabis Act requires that edible cannabis products be legalized within one year after the Cannabis Act comes into force – so October 2019.
Consumers in communities without a liquor store will be able to order product from a liquor store or cannabis store in the NWT. The product would then be direct shipped to the consumer. This is similar to the “mail order” or air delivery system currently used by the Liquor Commission for alcohol.
This distribution system has controls in place to protect against bootlegging and access by minors, including requirements that:
- Purchaser must be a resident of the Northwest Territories who is 19 years or over, and they must provide positive identification that includes date of birth, current address and sample signature
- Customer orders must be placed in writing, providing method of payment and directions for shipment, and they must be signed by the customer
- Store will check order with identification provided and verify that the customer is 19 years or over; does not reside in a community with a liquor store; and the cannabis order is not being shipped to a community where cannabis is prohibited
- Payment will be rendered before cannabis is shipped
- Each order will be packaged and sent individually to the purchaser by common carrier at the address provided on the identification provided by the purchaser
- The purchaser must sign the received shipment