Yellowknifers wake up, smoke joint, wonder what fuss is about
Residents of Yellowknife woke to a new era on Wednesday as the federal government introduced a lengthier and more cumbersome means of buying cannabis.
The Northwest Territories' cannabis website – the only place NWT residents can legally buy online – went live with sales at 12:02am.
Intrigued residents who signed up reported delays of at least 30 minutes in even receiving the email to verify your new account, never mind the actual cannabis. Seven-day ground shipping was said to be the only postage option available.
"There were only two strains available, and they were both top-end sh*t that'll destroy a rookie," said one early customer, who asked to remain anonymous on the grounds they were conducting a legal activity.
While on Tuesday it was technically capable of locking people up for possession of cannabis, on Wednesday the territorial government implored residents to buy the stuff with alluring descriptions like: "While its tart undertones will win over even the newest comer to cannabis, its distinct aroma of diesel adds an earthly quality with a robust finish."
When the territory's liquor stores open later on Wednesday, cannabis will be available in Yellowknife's uptown liquor store alongside those in Fort Simpson, Fort Smith, Hay River, and Norman Wells.
Inuvik's store won't stock cannabis. The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation told the CBC it was worried beneficiaries would have trouble at the United States border if the corporation had a hand in selling cannabis, given strict US rules regarding the substance.
Not that those rules seem to have worried anyone before. Legalization was expected to have a relatively minimal impact on consumption in the territory, where more than 26 percent of Yellowknifers freely admitted using cannabis to Statistics Canada even while it was still illegal.
As a result, the territorial government has stocked up based on estimates of a quarter of the population smoking a joint a day.
"The end of prohibition is here," declared Kim MacNearney, a Yellowknife resident and longtime campaigner for the drug's legalization, as Wednesday dawned.
MacNearney told Cabin Radio her 4/20 rallies in Yellowknife would continue, with the next one being "a celebration."
"This is our first step forward," she said. "No, it's not perfect. There will be challenges, there will be hiccups. But it doesn't matter, we have made a step.
"This is monumental. We are making ripples around the planet... because we've legalized a plant."
However, legalization doesn't automatically mean cannabis consumption is allowed anywhere.
There are various restrictions on where you can and cannot smoke cannabis, which will vary by community according to individual municipal bylaws, while landlords like Northview have warned tenants they cannot smoke or grow cannabis on the company's property.