A file photo of a cannabis plant. Michael Fischer/Pexels
The legalization of cannabis is seen as good news by a lot of people, in the NWT and across Canada. At the same time, it has the potential to cause new problems.
Or, at least, if you have a cannabis-related problem after it’s legal, there will be different ways to complain.
The territorial government has published a guide explaining who you need to contact for different issues once cannabis is legal.
On Wednesday, the territory held a briefing on cannabis sales. You can read our FAQ on buying cannabis, based on that briefing, here.
In the meantime, that weed smell in your building? Those people smoking at the playground? Problems when you try to buy cannabis? Here’s who to call.
At work Working with someone who seems impaired? Someone smoking at a worksite or at the mine? The territorial government says you can call the Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission, better known as the WSCC, on 1-800-661-0792. If you need it, there’s an anonymous online form you can use to report problems, too.
Many private companies running worksites or offices are likely to put in place their own policies, so check to see if one exists first.
Buying cannabis If you’ve got a complaint or a query about buying cannabis in the NWT, the place to contact is the newly renamed NWT Liquor and Cannabis Commission. The commission controls the sale of cannabis through the territory’s liquor stores. Contact the commission at its Hay River office by calling (867) 874-8700.
Problems with smoking If someone is smoking at a playground, a recreational area, or any public space during an event or gathering in that space, the territory says you should refer complaints abut that to an environmental health officer. Email email@example.com or call (867) 767-9066, extension 49262.
If there’s an issue with people smoking in a restricted area of a territorial park, contact a parks officer. The number depends on the region you’re in:
Beaufort Delta: (867) 777-7353
Dehcho: (867) 695-7515
South Slave: (867) 875-5565
Sahtu: (867) 587-7165
North Slave: (867) 445-5931
Problems in your condo or apartment block If someone’s cannabis use isn’t breaking the law but it’s causing you a problem, refer to your tenancy agreement or your condo bylaws. To pursue a problem, contact your landlord. That covers things like smoking, growing, and possession, as long as they are within the legislative limits. (Don’t know what the legislative limits are? Read this.)
If someone is breaking the law If you have a problem and it’s a result of someone breaking the law, call the RCMP. Simple as that. That includes impaired driving, growing more cannabis than is legal, possessing more cannabis than is legal, buying or using cannabis underage (the minimum age in the NWT is 19), and buying or selling cannabis illegally.
Lastly, there are some circumstances where a problem could be caused by someone breaking a municipal bylaw where you live. That’ll depend on your local bylaws – if you’re interested enough, contact your municipality. Any complaints would go to your municipality, e.g. a bylaw officer or community government staff member.
Obviously, the whole point of legalizing cannabis is for people to use it responsibly and for everyone to get along. (While some people feel somewhat more laidback than they were.) The above is just in case there’s an issue, because you never know.
If you’re really here trying to find out what you actually can and can’t do now cannabis is being legalized, this is the link for you. It tells you all the basic rules for the NWT once October 17 arrives.
Did you know?
From October 17, a new website for the NWT Liquor and Cannabis Commission is going to be the only place you can legally buy cannabis online. You can’t (legally) go anywhere else to place orders.
On that website, which presumably will magically appear on October 17 or shortly before, you’ll be able to order fresh or dried cannabis, cannabis oil, and seeds. Nothing else.
The places you can legally use cannabis in the NWT are: private property where smoking tobacco is allowed; on trails or roadways (when not operating a vehicle); and parks when not in use for a public event. That’s it.
How much can you have on you in public? Up to 30 grams of dried cannabis, or the equivalent. And obviously you need to be 19 or over.