The Government of the Northwest Territories tables draft cannabis legislation

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YELLOWKNIFE (February 28, 2018) –   Louis Sebert, Minister of Justice, introduced the Government of the Northwest Territories’ (GNWT) proposed legislation for legalizing recreational cannabis in the Northwest Territories (NWT) today.

The proposed Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Implementation Act deals with those aspects of the legalization of recreational cannabis that the GNWT has authority over, including: minimum age, possession limits, public smoking, the sale and distribution of recreational cannabis, and impaired driving.

The intent of the proposed legislation is to provide the legislative framework for a system that ensures NWT residents have safe and controlled access to legal cannabis, while taking into account the need to protect the health and safety of all residents. It also proposes to give communities the ability to take additional measures to ban or further restrict the possession, consumption and transportation of cannabis in the community, similar to the options available for restricting liquor.

The proposed legislation will now be reviewed and debated by the Legislative Assembly before it is finalized and passed into law. During this time, the GNWT will continue to develop the policies and programs necessary to prepare for the legalization of cannabis in the NWT, and will introduce public awareness and education campaigns related to the health impacts of cannabis use and the risks of impaired driving.


“The Government of the Northwest Territories has put forward a legislative approach that we feel is realistic and informed by the views of our residents and communities. We have moved as quickly as possible to ensure the Legislative Assembly has adequate time to review the legislation before the federally imposed deadline. Getting our laws in place is critical to setting up the policies, programs and operational arrangements we need to responsibly manage the legalization of cannabis in the NWT.”

- Louis Sebert, Minister of Justice

Quick Facts:

  • The proposed federal Cannabis Act was introduced on April 13, 2017. It is expected to come into force in Summer 2018. The regulation of edible cannabis products is expected to follow within one year.
  • The proposed federal Cannabis Act will set the framework for legalizing, regulating and restricting access to recreational cannabis. Specifically, the federal law will identify what activities are legal and what activities are still illegal. It will also deal with the licensing and oversight of a legal cannabis supply chain and set federal regulatory standards to protect public health and public safety, including impaired driving provisions.
  • Provinces and territories will have flexibility in how certain aspects are regulated, and these are the matters that are dealt with in the proposed GNWT legislation.
  • The proposed Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Implementation Act is omnibus legislation which deals with the authorities of three GNWT departments: the Department of Finance, the Department of Health and Social Services, and the Department of Infrastructure.
  • The GNWT undertook a large scale public engagement on the legalization of cannabis, which included an online survey (July 11 to September 22, 2017); public meetings in nine communities; and 120 letters sent to community and Indigenous Governments and other organizations. The GNWT reviewed more than 1,150 survey responses and engaged with more than 200 residents through in person consultations. The results were shared in a What We Heard report, which was tabled in the Legislative Assembly on October 17, 2017.

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Media Contact:

Charlotte Digness
Media and Communications Coordinator
Cabinet Communications and Protocol
Government of the Northwest Territories
Phone: 867-767-9140  Ext. 11092