GNWT begins process to open cannabis stores in five communities

The territorial government has started the search for contractors to operate cannabis stores in the communities of Inuvik, Fort Simpson, Fort Smith, Norman Wells, and Hay River.

Requests for qualifications are being sought from interested businesses in each of the five communities. The territory says it expects the stores to open in February 2022.

This is the first stage in the process of choosing and licensing private cannabis store owners for the communities.


A request for qualifications is essentially a pre-screening designed to establish which companies are interested, their experience in the field, and their financial ability to run such a store.

Applicants must also submit an RCMP criminal record check and divulge any details related to past criminality, litigation, or “disciplinary information.”

Interested parties have until December to respond. Applicants selected for the second stage of the process will be invited to submit a more detailed proposal to run a store.

In Yellowknife, the same process began in April 2019 but has yet to conclude.

The territorial government said it intended to open one cannabis retail store in each of the five communities named this week.


Each store “will become the sole retail supplier of cannabis from a physical store location” in its community, the territory’s request for qualifications states. At the moment, cannabis is sold from government-backed liquor stores.

“While the store will become the sole retail supplier of cannabis for a period of time,” the document continues, the selection process “is not intended to lead to any form of future exclusivity over the retail sale of cannabis.”

The territory said it “reserves the right to allow the opening of additional retail cannabis stores” in each community, while online sales – already available – will continue.