GN adds new online cannabis supplier; timeline for community storefronts still unclear

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The Government of Nunavut has added a second online cannabis supplier, Agmedica. Tweed had been the only authorized source of online marijuana orders for Nunavummiut since marijuana was legalized on Oct. 17.

Finance Minister George Hickes expressed confidence that cannabis retail shops in communities will reduce “black market” marijuana sales, but he couldn’t provide a date when retailers will start operations in Nunavut. Pixabay photo

Finance Minister George Hickes said the GN is still developing terms surrounding the sale of edible marijuana products and licensing cannabis stores in Nunavut communities, but there’s not yet a set date for either.

The Department of Finance has already advised that “sales data from the first few months of legalization suggests government revenues will be modest.”

Asked in the legislative assembly on Friday why sales revenues are below expectations, Hickes replied that “with the suppliers that we have on contract here in Nunavut, (they) haven’t been able to keep up with the demand or the selection that people desire.”

He predicted that having cannabis retailers in communities will help reduce purchases from the “black market” because there will be more immediate access to supply. Hickes added that an important advantage to legal cannabis is that the contents are regulated, so there are no “additives,” as there may be with street drugs.

The GN advertised for interested parties to submit proposals for cannabis stores last November.

Hickes was also asked whether government support would be available for smaller operators to make the plunge into selling cannabis, with the expectation that the Northern and Co-op may be competitors in retailing cannabis.

I think it’s an opportunity in communities for either existing small businesses or,” the minister responded, but then paused. “It’s hard to say, especially when you look at other jurisdictions and the challenges they’ve had with supply, whether it (would) be an option for a stand-alone retail unit strictly for that… Again, we are developing the regulations. I like to think it is an economic development activity the communities could take a look at.”