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Nunavut begins accepting new retail cannabis licence applications

Nunavut began accepting cannabis retail licence applications this week, starting on June 1. 

Currently, residents of Nunavut have only two legal sources for non medical cannabis from a licence category the territory calls Registered Suppliers. Residents can order online or by the phone from both Canopy/Tweed and AgMedica/Vertical Cannabis. 

Tweed has been authorized to sell to residents in the territory since October 2018 and AgMedica since April 2019. 

Physical cannabis stores, remote sales

The territory will now also allow two new licence types, physical cannabis stores and what it’s calling remote sales. These two licence categories can also be combined. There are also two subclasses of physical stores: enclosed cannabis stores and integrated cannabis stores.

Nunavummiut are allowed up to 150 grams per household, along with the federal public limit of 30 grams per person.

Enclosed cannabis stores can be either stand-alone buildings or a store located within an existing commercial space such as a multi unit building.

Integrated cannabis stores, however, allow for a retailer within an existing commercial business that is accessible to the general public, such as a general store, etc. As much of Nunavut’s 38,000 population is in remote areas that might not be able to financially support a stand-alone retailer, this would provide another possible mode of over the counter access. 

Unlike enclosed stores, integrated stores will not be allowed to display products or discuss cannabis products with customers, but will operate as more discreet access points where consumers can select their purchases from a product list from a separate point-of-sale terminal.

A remote sales licence, which can be combined with a physical cannabis store licence, allows a licence holder to store and ship cannabis products via Canada Post or another delivery service, to residents who can order online, by phone or app.

Retailers will be able to access cannabis directly from federally licensed cannabis producers who are registered suppliers with the territory, rather than going through a territorial distributor. saskatchewan is the only other jurisdiction in Canada that has no government-run distribution arm.

In discussions with communities and other stakeholders, we have heard repeatedly that Nunavummiut see legal cannabis sales as an economic opportunity and want a system put in place where they can take advantage of the opportunities themselves.

George Hickes, MLA for the district of Iqaluit-Tasiluk

Stores not likely before late summer/early fall

Although the licensing process is now open, it will likely be several months before any are issued. In addition to 30 days processing time, new applications in a community will undergo a 60 day consultation period, with a 30 day consultation for all subsequent stores in a community.

Remote sales applications will have the opportunity to be processed a little faster, removing the public consultation process entirely. This could allow applications who seek to hold both licenses to begin selling remotely while waiting for the community consultation portion for their physical retail licence. 

The application fee for a retail licence is $2,000. There is no additional fee to add an online retail licence to a physical store licence. Retailers will also be required to pay 2% of their revenue from cannabis product sales to the territory in the form of an additional licensing fee. 

All retail employees who are engaging with customers will be required to complete the Nunavut Cannabis Retail Employee Training Program certification process. The age of access in Nunavut is 19. Nunavummiut are allowed up to 150 grams per household, along with the federal public limit of 30 grams per person. 

The Government of Nunavut introduced their legislation to allow these new licences categories in February of this year and passed it mid-March.

George Hickes, an MLA for the district of Iqaluit-Tasiluk, expressed his support for the new license categories on March 12, during final reading of the new bill. 

“In discussions with communities and other stakeholders, we have heard repeatedly that Nunavummiut see legal cannabis sales as an economic opportunity and want a system put in place where they can take advantage of the opportunities themselves,” said the MLA. 

More information in the Nunavut Cannabis Retailers Handbook as well as here.