Northwest Territories in Canada are slashing prices to overshadow illicit market


Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Cannabis consumers in Canada’s Northwest Territories are being treated to reduced prices on pot products. The NWT’s finance minister Caroline Wawzonek recently announced a plan that will cut the cost of legal cannabis products by 10 percent. This, she says, will put the brakes on illegal sales.

Wawzonek’s announcement was officially made on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. The Canadian politician, who joined the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories following her election in 2019, says that the territorial government is optimistic that the latest move to minimize prices will ensure the retail regime remains safe and secure.

“The Government of the Northwest Territories is committed to eliminating the illegal sale of cannabis by providing residents with legal access to safe and secure products. Today’s announcement is one of many steps that need to be taken to accomplish this goal,” Wawzonek said in a statement. 

In collaboration with the Northwest Territories Liquor and Cannabis Commission (NTLCC), the territory’s government is the sole supplier of legal cannabis for local consumers. NWT  which constitutes the regions of Dehcho, Inuvik, North Slave, Sahtu and South Slave operates five liquor stores, inside which consumers can purchase dried buds, capsules, seeds and oils. Customers can also acquire these products via the commission’s online website.

Legal cannabis in NWT has tugged on consumers’ purse strings 

While the legalization of cannabis in NWT may have provided consumers with some satisfaction in the knowledge that they can now easily access their favorite plant, it seems that legalization has triggered a spike in prices for both the illicit and legal markets.

According to insights published by Statistics Canada, the per-gram cost of cannabis in the Northwest Territories averaged $12.71 pre-legalization. Now, consumers are forking out $14.45 per gram — representing a 13 per cent increase.

It’s not just price that is deterring NWT cannabis consumers from buying their pot products via legitimate and regulated sources but also, the lack of options distributed across Canada’s licensed retail stores. Moreover, in-store locations are limited, thus making it more convenient for consumers to dial up their local dealer and arrange a quick meeting.

Thankfully, based on the details of Wawzonek’s announcement, the government has done its homework. With a deeper understanding of the operation, distribution and retail sale costs that connect consumers with their preferred source of weed, the NWT’s legal cannabis market can finally be steered in the right direction.

Legal cannabis in NWT fell 80 percent short of revenue predictions

Cannabis legalization swept across Canada on October 17, 2018. Within the first year, the NWT missed out on revenue goals for its budding legal weed industry by a depressing 80 percent. Profit amounted to a little over half a million dollars during the launch year of legal sales and the territory’s online store where customers can buy just three types of cannabis saw a $136,000 glut in revenue last year. Profit aside, $3.9 million has been sold territory-wide since legalization.

Loss of revenue was disappointing for the NWT’s online cannabis store, which welcomed a mere 604 users since its inception two years ago. The results delivered a pretty sore blow to the territory, with major consumer interest flopping in spite of a 44 percent markup price on all of the store’s products. Losses were noted by the NTLCC, which is in charge of selling and distributing cannabis to NWT residents.

Some major cannabis suppliers in the remote and forested NWT include Aurora Cannabis, Canopy Growth and High Park.