The Northwest Territories has begun its cannabis shopping spree.

Territorial government representatives have travelled to southern provinces to meet suppliers, and are in the process of finalizing a range of agreements, a spokesperson confirmed to Cabin Radio.

The Department of Finance is responsible for those agreements because it administers the NWT Liquor Commission, through which cannabis must be sold for the time being.

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A motion in the legislature last week to open cannabis up to private retail, backed by a range of MLAs, was narrowly voted down. Instead, a compromise was struck whereby the justice minister agreed to have a plan in place for evaluating and approving private retailers in six months’ time.

Though the federal government recommended liquor and cannabis not be sold together, the territory says only the liquor commission – and associated stores – have the infrastructure and safeguards in place to effectively sell cannabis to NWT residents once legalization takes place later this summer.

“The NWT Liquor Commission is presently negotiating with several cannabis suppliers located in various provinces,” Department of Finance spokesperson Todd Sasaki told us.

“Initial agreements will be based on supply, price and product quality. Future supply will be driven by customer preference and demand and may include numerous suppliers.”

The price of cannabis in Northwest Territories liquor stores has not yet been revealed to the public.

Plebiscites

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the territorial government issued a news release reminding its community governments they have the right to hold plebiscites over whether to prohibit or restrict cannabis sales and distribution inside their boundaries.

In other words, communities can hold a vote to turn themselves into the cannabis equivalent of a dry community.

However, the window in which to do so for some communities is small. Once a cannabis store is up and running in a community – including territorial liquor stores planning to add cannabis sales – the option of a plebiscite disappears.

“If one of the seven communities where cannabis is planned to be for sale as of legalization day want to prohibit or restrict cannabis sales, a plebiscite will need to be held in advance of the legalization date,” read the territory’s news release.

“Those communities who will not immediately have local cannabis stores do not face the same time constraints, and will have the ability to prohibit or restrict cannabis at any time prior to the establishment of a cannabis store in that community.”

The territory says it will hold a plebiscite within 25 days of any municipality or band asking for one, but they need to send that request before July 16 in order to beat the expected legalization date.