Pubdate: Fri, 10 Nov 2017
Source: Whitehorse Star (CN YK)
Copyright: 2017 Whitehorse Star
Author: Taylor Blewett


A significant majority of Yukoners are behind the federal government's
plan to legalize marijuana for recreational use

A significant majority of Yukoners are behind the federal government's
plan to legalize marijuana for recreational use and believe it's
acceptable to occasionally use the drug for exactly that reason.

Those findings are in the results from the Yukon government's most
successful survey ever in terms of participation numbers.

Nearly 3,200 responses to the introductory section of a YG public
engagement survey on cannabis legalization were filed.

Eighty-one per cent of participants indicated support for Ottawa's
plans to legalize the drug, with 76 and 75 per cent saying it is
socially acceptable to recreationally eat and smoke cannabis,

Many of the respondents - between 2,416 and 2,817, depending on the
section - went on to answer subsequent optional questions, organized
into categories.

As far as how influential these survey responses will actually be in
shaping the territory's cannabis legislation, "the survey was drafted
to allow Yukoners to provide their input and that input is now being
considered," Patricia Randell, the director of cannabis implementation
and education with the Department of Justice, said via email.

"The survey results will inform the Government of Yukon's
decision-makers as they draft the necessary legislation and
regulations, as will the feedback received from First Nation
governments, municipalities, and stakeholders across the territory."

Eighty-five per cent of respondents indicated they agree with a policy
focus on public health, safety, harm reduction and preventing negative
health impacts on young people.

Develop the legislation

"As we develop the legislation, we will continue to consider the
impacts associated with the normalization of cannabis - particularly
as is relates to its effects on youth, pregnant women, and those at
risk of psychosis or cardiovascular disease," Health and Social
Services Minister Pauline Frost said in a statement on the survey results.

A slim majority of respondents - 51 per cent - were in favour of a
mixed retail model for cannabis, with both government and private
retailers operating in the Yukon market.

Twenty-four per cent supported exclusively private while 19 per cent
favoured exclusively government-operated stores.

Forty-three per cent agreed that communities by way of local
governments should have the right to refuse a cannabis retail store
from operating in their jurisdiction, while 58 per cent supported the
online sale and home delivery of marijuana.

The government has not made any decisions about the territory's retail
model, according to Randell.

There was division among respondents as to age requirements for
possessing, purchasing or growing cannabis, with 45 per cent behind 19
years as a minimum age, 22 per cent behind 21 years, and 21 per cent
behind 18 years.

More consensus was apparent around road safety.

Significant majorities - 80 and 87 per cent - agreed with zero
tolerance for any alcohol or drugs for new drivers and those drivers
under the age of 21, and drivers operating commercial vehicles,

A craft marijuana cultivation and retail industry in the Yukon appears
to have significant support behind it.

The survey had 84 per cent of respondents indicating support for
locally grown cannabis, 83 per cent supporting secondary product
manufacturing - hemp, for example - and 72 per cent supporting
"cannabis-related retail opportunities."

The act governing Yukon cannabis regulations this survey is intended
to inform, according to the YG press release, will be in place before
federal legislation is enacted in July 2018.

Ottawa reaffirmed its commitment to this deadline in a statement
released today.

The federal Department of Finance also outlined for public
consultation its proposed excise tax on cannabis sales.

It would see $1 per gram or 10 per cent of the producer's sale price -
whichever is higher - taxed, with Ottawa and the provinces and
territories splitting the revenue 50/50.

Premier Sandy Silver has expressed his displeasure with this

"We believe that our expenses are a lot more than the federal
government's expenses," he told local media in October.

He did not clarify what he thought a more appropriate division of
funds would be.

Neither the premier nor Justice Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee were
available to the Star to comment on the tax proposal or the status of
the territory's cannabis regulations.

"We are working diligently on our proposed Yukon approach and I look
forward to releasing details in the near future," McPhee said in the
survey press release.

The survey - hosted online, and available on paper and over the phone,
by request - ran from Aug. 10 to Sept. 30.

Yukon residents made up 97 per cent of the respondents.
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MAP posted-by: Matt