- The Liberal Party released its platform for the 2015 federal election, which included a promise to legalize marijuana. The platform indicated that:
“Canada’s current system of marijuana prohibition does not work. It does not prevent young people from using marijuana and too many Canadians end up with criminal records for possessing small amounts of the drug. Arresting and prosecuting these offenses is expensive for our criminal justice system. It traps too many Canadians in the criminal justice system for minor, non-violent offenses. At the same time, the proceeds from the illegal drug trade support organized crime and greater threats to public safety, like human trafficking and hard drugs. To ensure that we keep marijuana out of the hands of children, and the profits out of the hands of criminals, we will legalize, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana.”
- The Prime Minister publicly released letters giving specific directions to the new federal Ministers. These letters instructed the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and the Minister of Health to create a federal-provincial-territorial process that would lead to the legalization and regulation of marijuana.
- The three federal Ministers announced the creation of a nine member Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation ("the Task Force"). The Task Force was told to consult broadly and to give advice on how to "legalize, regulate, and restrict access" to cannabis.
- The Task Force completed its report after consulting with Canadians, provincial, territorial and municipal governments, Indigenous governments and representative organizations, youth, patients and experts on issues related to cannabis. The final report of the Task Force is posted on the Government of Canada website.
- The federal government introduced its proposed Cannabis Act in Parliament. If passed, the Act will create rules for legalizing, strictly regulating and restricting access to cannabis. Canadians who use and possess cannabis while following the new rules will no longer be committing an offence under the Criminal Code. There will be new laws to punish people who give cannabis to minors, people who sell cannabis without authority, and impaired drivers. More details on what is included in the federal legislation can be found on the Government of Canada website.
A series of consultations held from July 11 – September 22, 2017 gathered feedback to inform decisions and was presented in the “What We Heard” report. This input was used to develop the GNWT’s proposed approach to legalization along with other important factors including inter-jurisdictional considerations, coordination with enforcement partners, practical and financial implications for implementation and current research on the health impacts of cannabis.
- On November 24, 2017 The Cannabis Legalization in the Northwest Territories: The Way Forward report was released. This outlines the proposed approach on matters where the GNWT has responsibility including; minimum age, possession limits, public smoking, sale and distribution of recreational cannabis, impaired driving, workplace safety and public education.
- The Government of Canada shifted the timeline for implementation of the federal Cannabis Act from July 2018 to summer 2018.
- The Government of the Northwest Territories introduced the Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Implementation Act. The proposed legislation has been referred for review by Standing Committees of the Legislative Assembly. It will not be final until it has been debated and passed by the Assembly.
- The GNWT will continue to develop the policies and programs – and make the operational arrangements – necessary to prepare for the legalzation of cannabis in the Northwest Territories. It will also roll out public awareness and education campaigns related to the health impacts of cannabis use and the risks of impaired driving in the coming weeks.
- If the proposed Cannabis Act is approved by Parliament, the federal government has said that cannabis will be legal sometime in the summer 2018. New NWT legislation would come into force at the same time.
- On June 1, the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories enacted the Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Implementation Act, which legalizes the sale and use of cannabis in the Northwest Territories once federal legislation is passed.