Though cannabis has been legal in Nunavut and across the country since 2018, perceptions around its use still push some smokers to partake in secret.
“Too many people still frown down the fact that people smoke marijuana,” said one Kivalliq resident who wanted to remain anonymous because of the judgment she feels still exists.
“Yet people are more than OK with the beer and wine store (in Rankin Inlet). There are still people in the community who are against (cannabis),” she said.
She’s been smoking cannabis for 20 years, but legalization didn’t change her habits regarding how much she smokes. It hasn’t changed how much she smokes cigarettes, either.
“The only major change I saw was that sales of it dropped from $50 to $20 for a gram of weed,” the resident said.
She thinks some people are stubborn and won’t ever accept that cannabis can be used as medicine.
Despite cannabis being legally available now, the resident said there are still plenty of local dealers, many of whom are just average people who buy legally online and mark up sales in town.
She added that it’s sad there are pills and cocaine in town as well. However, she contended that marijuana is not a gateway drug, as she has never taken up an offer to do anything other than smoke weed.
Weichien Chan, manager of communications with the Department of Finance, said that since legalization, the Nunavut Liquor and Cannabis Commission has run campaigns providing information on the law around cannabis and operating boats and motor vehicles under the influence.
Chan would not reveal the volume or value of legal cannabis sales in the territory.
“While we do collect information on legal cannabis sales, because we only have one legal cannabis retailer in Nunavut, releasing this information would reveal details that could affect their business interests,” Chan wrote in an email.
Details for cannabis use from Statistics Canada in Nunavut are scant and based on low numbers, but self-reported use over the last three years tended to show about 30 per cent of the territory were smoking.