When the Government of Canada legalized recreational cannabis Oct. 17, some residents were left confused about where they are allowed to consume the substance.
As of now, Inuvik is following the consumption location limitations outlined in the Government of the Northwest Territories’ (GNWT) legislation.
Smoking cannabis in locations frequented by children, such as playgrounds, school yards and sports fields, is strictly prohibited.
Adults over the age of 19 are also prohibited from smoking cannabis at outdoor events.
For example, an adult could smoke cannabis in Chief Jim Koe Park as long as there isn’t a public event, such as the Arctic Market, being held.
Inuvik Mayor Jim McDonald said the town’s bylaw officer is not responsible for enforcing the legislation – it is up to the GNWT’s Environmental Health Officers.
These guidelines could change, however, as the Town of Inuvik is reviewing its municipal bylaws and policies following the legalization of cannabis.
Smoking Bylaw 2089, Zoning Bylaw 2583 and Business Licence Bylaw 1878 are under review.
McDonald said this could mean changes to where cannabis could be smoked, as well as regulations as to where private retail stores selling cannabis or paraphernalia can set up.
The bylaws are still undergoing a review process and any changes will be made by the next mayor and council.
Purchasing cannabis in Inuvik
Unlike other communities in the territory, the Inuvik Liquor Store will not sell cannabis.
Selling cannabis on behalf of the GNWT would have minimal benefits and several risks associated with it, according to Duane Smith, chair of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC), which operates the liquor store.
Smith said selling cannabis through the liquor store may also restrict the ability of IRC beneficiaries to travel to the United States due to the country’s new travel restrictions.
This leaves Inuvik residents with one option for purchasing legal cannabis – online through the Northwest Territories Liquor and Cannabis Commission website.