Education and enforcement: Yellowknifers weigh in on N.W.T. marijuana legalization – North

More than 50 people attended a public consultation about cannabis legalization in Yellowknife on Thursday night.

Some of the questions from the the public included “Can I smoke marijuana on my balcony?” and “Will dry communities be creating their own cannabis regulations?” while the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce raised concerns about potential legislation hurting local businesses.

“We need to make sure that the government is our regulator, but not our retailer. Producers should not be able to also sell their product,” said Deneen Everett, executive director of the chamber.

“This will actually create a much more fair environment, which will allow small businesses to start up and take advantage of those opportunities.”

The meeting, put on by the territorial government, is part of a series of public consultations being held across the territory this month.

The federal government is legalizing cannabis by July 2018, but leaving it up to the provincial and territorial governments to implement their own laws.

​The public feedback from the consultations will be used to help the government of the Northwest Territories draft its legislation.

Michele Thoms, a teacher at  St. Patrick High School, said students need more information on what’s going on.

“Availability is going to increase use among people who shouldn’t be using it,” she said. “So what I would like to see is as much information as you can get into the school systems about marijuana, about the effects of marijuana.”

Gerri Sharpe, who was also at Thursday’s meeting, said the public education around marijuana needs to focus on the medical aspects as well as recreational use.

“Part of the public awareness campaign that needs to happen needs to emphasize not only the bad things that marijuana…

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