October 1, 2018
Cannabis in the NWT
- The minimum age to purchase, possess, and consume cannabis in the Northwest Territories is 19.
This is in line with the legal drinking age, creating a consistent and unified approach to restricting youth access and keeping young people healthy and safe.
- Cannabis will become legal in Canada and the Northwest Territories on October 17, 2018.
- The Northwest Territories Liquor and Cannabis Commission (NTLCC) is responsible for the distribution and sale of cannabis in the NWT.
- Only fresh or dried cannabis, cannabis oil and seeds will be available for sale. NWT residents can only buy legal cannabis products online from the NTLCC or from some NWT Liquor Stores
- The Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission (WSCC) will be responsible for regulating cannabis at worksites to protect employees and ensure workplace health and safety.
- In the Northwest Territories, adults 19 and over will be allowed to possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis (or the equivalent) in a public place.
- People under the age of 19 are not allowed to purchase or possess any cannabis.
- While in a vehicle, cannabis products must be in closed packaging and not within reach of the vehicle driver or occupants.
- It is a Criminal Code offence to operate a motor vehicle while impaired by a drug or alcohol.
- Once cannabis becomes legal on October 17, 2018, it will also be a criminal offence to drive with more than a certain level of THC (the chemical in cannabis that causes impairment) in your system.
- The federal government has proposed changes to the Criminal Code that set:
- the legal limit for certain drugs, or drugs and alcohol together, in a driver’s system;
- the penalties that can apply if a driver is found to have more than the legal limit of certain drugs, or drugs and alcohol, in their system; and
- The rules around when law enforcement can demand drug testing, what tests can be used and what happens when someone refuses to be tested.
- For more information on the proposed changes to the federal Criminal Code, please go to http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/csj-sjc/pl/sidl-rlcfa/c46/p3.html).
- In the NWT, the RCMP enforce impaired driving laws.
- In addition to facing potential charges under the Criminal Code, drivers in the NWT could have their driver’s licence suspended if they:
- fail a Standardized Field Sobriety Test (also known as physical coordination tests);
- fail an evaluation by a Drug Recognition Expert; or
- refuse to do the test or evaluation without a reasonable excuse
- certain types of drivers can have their driver’s licence suspended if they are found to be driving with any amount of alcohol or prohibited drugs in their system, specifically:
- if you are younger than 22 years of age;
- if you have a learner’s driver’s licence or a probationary driver’s licence; and
- If you drive certain types of commercial vehicles.
- Cannabis in a vehicle must be unopened or be stored in a place that is out of reach of the driver and any passengers.
- The Registrar of Motor Vehicles has been given the authority to release some motor vehicle and driving‐related records to law enforcement agencies when required for law enforcement purposes.
- Cannabis use in the NWT is limited to:
- private property where smoking tobacco is allowed;
- on trails or roadways (when not operating a motor vehicle); and
- Parks when not in use for a public event.
- Smoking or vaping cannabis is strictly prohibited in locations frequented by children, such as: playgrounds, school grounds or sports fields, and outdoor events.
- Community governments have the authority to make and enforce their own bylaws that add to the GNWT's rules on public consumption of cannabis.
- NWT communities without an existing cannabis store have options for restricting or banning cannabis by holding a plebiscite.
Health Effects on Cannabis
For more information, visit the Health Effects of Cannabis page on the Health and Social Services website.