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Proposed location of Nunavut’s second cannabis store draws mixed reaction

Aug 11, 2022 | Media Partners, The GrowthOp

This post is presented by our media partner The Growth Op
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The proposed location is reportedly near a wellness hub that has already received city approval and is currently under construction

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A new cannabis store may soon be opening its doors in Nunavut, marking just the second brick-and-mortar dispensary in the territory of 40,000 people.

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A bylaw amendment that would allow Higher Experience Inc. to operate next to Northmart supermarket passed second reading at an Iqaluit council meeting earlier this week, reports Nunatsiaq News, but the proposed plan has yet to receive final approval.

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  3. The price of cannabis flower from licensed producers in Nunavut was considerably higher than most other provinces and territories.

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According to Nunatsiaq News, the location is near a wellness hub that has already received city approval and is currently under construction.

A consultant with the planning company behind the project told city council that the proposed cannabis store “has a misalignment of the goals” of the wellness hub.

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“[The centre has] specific concerns about the proximity to the daycare that will be part of the wellness hub and the use of cannabis so close to where children might be outside playing,” the spokesperson reportedly told council. The store would also be about 150 metres from the Nakasuk Elementary School.

Those in support of the cannabis store said that it would prevent youth from accessing the products and could impede illicit sales in the area.

They also noted the new store would be in a more accessible location than Nuna Cannabis, which was the first store to be issued a cannabis retail licence from the Government of Nunavut.

In 2020, the territorial government announced its plans to issue cannabis retail licences, noting that community consultation would be required.

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The consultation period is 60 days for the initial store in a community and 30 days for any subsequent stores. According to the Nunavut Cannabis Retailers Handbook, applications take 30 days to process.

“Right now, Nunavut is reliant on the black market to supply cannabis sales in the territory,” Iqaluit-Manirajak MLA Adam Lightstone told Nunavut News in 2019.

“With the amount of cannabis consumption in the territory and the fact that all that money is being funnelled out, siphoned out by the black market, I find that unacceptable,” Lightstone argued at the time.

The territory’s Cannabis Act was green lit in June 2018, the last provincial or territorial act to pass in the country. At the time, only two companies — Canopy Growth and AgMedica Bioscience Inc. — were permitted to sell their products, with customers ordering online or over the phone.

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Last year, researchers at the University of Waterloo announced a new project examining how cannabis is consumed and accessed across the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

Relying on information from about 1,500 participants — 500 in each territory — the annual survey will be conducted for up to three years and track things like cannabis prevalence and patterns of use, purchasing and price points, retail environment, risk behaviours, perceptions of risk and social norms, the effectiveness of regulatory policies and socio-demographic information.

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