The Yukon Territory Is Stockpiling $2.7M of Cannabis in Preparation for Legalization

March 23, 2018

The Yukon Territory Is Stockpiling $2.7M of Cannabis in Preparation for Legalization

Yukon, a Canadian territory is stocking up on marijuana ahead of the countries plans to legalize cannabis later this year, according to minister John Streicker.

As the date of legalization approaches, Canadian territories and provinces are trying to get ahead of the expected demand for legalized marijuana. The Yukon’s minister in charge of marijuana sales, John Streicker, told the assembly last week that despite efforts to stockpile marijuana they were still facing potential shortages.

The Yukon budget for marijuana this year is approximately $3 million to the Yukon Liquor Corporation for a “Cannabis Distributor Corporation Fund.” All sales of legalized marijuana across Canada will be the responsibilities of that territory or provinces liquor distribution organization owned and operated by the government. “Ninety percent of those startup costs will be going toward inventory,” said Minister John Streicker.

There is still some confusion over when the legalization will occur. Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, stated, “The date will not be July 1, I can assure you of that,” the prime minister said, “I don’t know where that date came from.” Most bets are still on the legalization date being very close to July 1st. “After the date when cannabis is legalized across the country, and until such time as production catches up, there may be a shortage. We’re looking to make sure that there is a supply in place,”  said Minister John Streicker.

So far, the government in the Yukon hasn’t stated where or from whom they would be buying their marijuana, or at what price they would be paying, but a spokesperson from the government said they estimated that $2.7M should be approximately a four-month supply. Whitehorse, a city in Yukon, has recently changed its zoning bylaws to facilitate the sale of marijuana in an area known as Marwell. A government request for bids to build a new storage warehouse in Whitehorse received only one bid of $3.4M. More than the total amount allocated for the first years’ marijuana budget.

The Yukon government’s plan to grow government by creating a new government-run cannabis corporation has already hit a pothole,” said Wade Istchenko, MLA for Kluane. This wouldn’t be a problem said Streicker, with the price of the new warehouse not coming from this year’s budget but being paid over twenty years. If the price is too high, the Yukon government may use pre-existing warehouses utilized by the Yukon Liquor Corporation.

We also have our own warehouse nearby which also could act as a warehouse [for pot]. So, there are choices to be made,” Streicker said. “What we’re working toward making sure … is that there will be cannabis available for Yukoners by the time it becomes legal. And I don’t have a clear answer.” 

There is talk of the promise of new employment around the legalization of cannabis, but Streicker is playing down the expected numbers. “We’re looking to see how this can transition to the private sector, as soon as we’re able to get the regulations and the ability for the private sector to come online. While we are working to ensure that cannabis is available for our citizens, we’re not trying to commit to long-term to have a store,” he said.

So far, there are no immediate plans for private businesses to be able to sell marijuana legally, but the options haven’t been completely ruled out. “We’ve been talking with the business community about their interests. I can’t give you an exact timeline,” said Streicker.

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