Work underway to support cannabis legalization in Northwest Territories

News Releases

YELLOWKNIFE (April 20, 2017) – The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) has begun the necessary work to prepare for the legalization of cannabis following the tabling of federal legislation in the House of Commons last week.

The GNWT established a multi-departmental cannabis working group in 2016 in response to federal plans to table legislation sometime in early 2017. The working group will now review the legislation to determine next steps to ensure the GNWT is prepared for legalization in July 2018.


“With the pending legalization of cannabis, it is important we consider the safety of all residents of the Northwest Territories. We will work to ensure that a safe supply of cannabis is available to our residents while keeping it out of the hands of our children and youth, and reduce the criminal element that comes with the illicit drug trade.”
- Louis Sebert, Minister of Justice

“It’s important we ensure the health and well-being of our residents is top-of-mind as we move towards the legalization of cannabis, especially when it comes to our young people. We must ensure our residents are well educated on the risks associated with cannabis use. I am confident that we can establish a regulatory system that will ensure residents have access to cannabis products that meet rigorously enforced quality, security and health standards.”
- Glen Abernethy, Minister of Health and Social Services

Quick Facts

  • The GNWT working group includes the Departments of Justice; Health and Social Services; Municipal and Community Affairs; Finance; Education, Culture and Employment; Infrastructure; and the Workers Safety and Compensation Commission.
  • The proposed federal legislation sets the national age limit to purchase at 18 years of age, and will allow territories and provinces the ability to marry it with their minimum age for the purchase of alcohol.
  • Canadians will be allowed to have a maximum of four plants per household, no taller than one meter in height. However, provinces and territories may reduce the amount.
  • Adults who are 18 years or older would be able to legally possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis, and share up to 30 grams with other adults. However, provinces and territories have the authority to reduce the personal amounts.
  • Restrictions on where residents are able to smoke cannabis will follow regulations set out with regards to the public smoking of tobacco.
  • Illegal distribution or sale of cannabis could lead to a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison under the Criminal Code of Canada.

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Media Contact

Andrew Livingstone
Senior Cabinet Communications Advisor
Government of the Northwest Territories
Tel: (867) 767-9140 ext. 11091