Cannabis in Nunavut

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Cannabis in Nunavut, as in the rest of Canada, became legal for recreational use on the effective date of the Cannabis Act on 17 October 2018.[1][2]

Cannabis in Canada has been legal for medicinal purposes since 2001 under conditions outlined in the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations, later superseded by the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations,[3] issued by Health Canada and seed, grain, and fibre production was permitted under licence by Health Canada.[4]

The federal Cannabis Act, legalizing cannabis for recreational use, came into effect on 17 October 2018.[5][6] Each province and territory set its own laws for various aspects, such as the legal age, whether householders can grow cannabis and the method of retail sales. [7][8]

2017 Cannabis legalisation survey[edit]

In August and September 2017, Nunavut residents aged 16 and older were encouraged to complete a brief online survey with their opinions on the upcoming legalization of cannabis. The results were released in December 2017, based on the feedback of 1,148 respondents. Among the survey's findings:[9]

  • 75% of respondents supported legalizing cannabis, with 19% opposed and 6% no opinion
  • Nearly three-quarters of respondents wanted restrictions on where cannabis can be smoked, but fewer than half wanted restrictions on where non-smoked products could be used.
  • Respondents were "particularly interested" in cannabis's effects on "children, youth and pregnant women".

In order to limit election interference, the results of the poll were held until after the territorial election on 30 October.[10]


In the 1980s, W. C. E. Rasing studied conditions in the Inuit village of Igloolik, and reported that 40–60% of the population aged 12 to 40 used cannabis or hashish.[11] This is in contrast to a 1970 study in the same village which reported occasional alcohol abuse and no other substance abuse.[12]


In 2016, Nunavut along with the Northwest Territories saw a decrease in cannabis arrests compared to previous years, with 16 charged with cannabis possession and 45 charged with cannabis trafficking in 2016.[13]


As cannabis has been introduced to Nunavut it does not have a traditional Inuit-language name. There are two Inuit languages recognised by the Nunavut government, Inuinnaqtun and Inuktitut, and both have several dialects. The Office of the Languages Commissioner of Nunavut (Inuit Uqausinginnik Taiguusiliuqtiit) picked surrarnaqtuq (ᓱᕐᕋᖕᓇᖅᑐᖅ[14] in Inuktitut syllabics) meaning "to have an effect", which can also refer to being under the influence of alcohol.[15]

Other names[edit]

Other names for cannabis used in Nunavut include:[15]

  • ujarak (ᐅᔭᕋᒃ[14]) "rock" in reference to being stoned
  • miluksi or milutsi from the word for inhaling
  • aangajaarnaqtuq (ᐋᖓᔮᕐᓇᖅᑐᖅ[14]) or aangayaarnaqtuq a word meaning "to be drunk"

Legalized cannabis for recreational use[edit]

Due to delays caused by the 30 October 2017 territorial election, Nunavut was the last territory to announce its legal cannabis framework.[16] Cannabis had already been legal in Nunavut for medical purposes.[17]

By early October 2018, the plans and rules were set. Sales would be made online, by phone and through government agents of the Nunavut Liquor and Cannabis Commission (NULC). All of the product was initially provided by Tweed which offers 10 different strains of marijuana and lines like Leafs by Snoop. Initially, no stores would sell marijuana but private enterprise stores may be licensed in future. Communities will not be allowed to declare a prohibition on cannabis use but can refuse to accept a cannabis store. The minimum age for possession or use is 19. Restrictions on smoking the product are the same as for tobacco smoking. The NWT government was considering the legalization of lounges where cannabis may be consumed in a format other than smoking. No more than 30 grams may be bought at one time by an individual or carried in public.[18] [19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cannabis Information. Government of Nunavut
  2. ^ Rogers, Sarah (17 October 2018). "Legal marijuana goes on sale in Nunavut, Nunavik, but only online". Nunatsiaq News. Retrieved 7 December 2018.
  3. ^ "Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations". Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  4. ^ "Industrial Hemp Regulation Program FAQ". Health Canada. November 2012. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
  5. ^ Scott, Monique (20 June 2018). "Marijuana to be legal in Canada starting October 17, Trudeau confirms". Global News.
  6. ^ "The Cannabis Act: The Facts". Health Canada. Government of Canada. 20 June 2018. Retrieved 27 October 2018.
  7. ^ "Marijuana is legal everywhere across Canada now". Inside Halton. Metroland News. 17 October 2018. Retrieved 27 October 2018.
  8. ^ "Cannabis is legal in Canada — here's what you need to know". CBC News. CBC. 17 October 2018. Retrieved 27 October 2018.
  9. ^ NunatsiaqOnline 2017-12-15: NEWS: Three-quarters of Nunavut survey respondents support legalizing pot: survey
  10. ^ NunatsiaqOnline 2017-09-18: NEWS: Nunavut cannabis survey results won’t be released prior to election
  11. ^ David Damas (May 2004). Arctic Migrants/Arctic Villagers: The Transformation of Inuit Settlement in the Central Arctic. McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP. pp. 200–. ISBN 978-0-7735-2405-7.
  12. ^ Roy J. Shephard; Andris Rode (23 February 1996). The Health Consequences of 'Modernisation': Evidence from Circumpolar Peoples. Cambridge University Press. pp. 82–. ISBN 978-0-521-47401-6.
  13. ^ Pot charges continue downward trend in N.W.T., Nunavut, stay the same in Yukon - North - CBC News
  14. ^ a b c By any other name, the ujarak’s just as sweet
  15. ^ a b Nunavut’s new official name for cannabis — ‘surrarnaqtuq’ — leaves some with bad buzz
  16. ^ Community consultations on legal weed coming to Nunavut in January - North - CBC News
  17. ^ NunatsiaqOnline 2017-10-06: NEWS: Nunavut hamlets work to get ready for marijuana legalization
  18. ^ "Here's what you need to know about legal cannabis in the 3 territories". CBC News. CBC. 17 October 2018. Retrieved 28 October 2018.
  19. ^ "Cannabis Summary". Namaste. Nunavut. 11 October 2018. Retrieved 28 October 2018.

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