Cannabis Strains in Northwest Territories

The Northwest Territories (NWT), a vast region in northern Canada, has experienced a unique interplay between its natural environment and the cannabis culture. As the legalization of cannabis in Canada in 2018 opened the doors for both recreational and medicinal use, cultivation patterns and strain preferences have seen shifts in the NWT. This article will explore some of the most popular and regionally-adapted cannabis strains in the Northwest Territories, the influence of the local climate on cultivation, and the cultural implications of cannabis in this region.

Background: Cannabis in the Northwest Territories

Before delving into specific strains, it’s essential to understand the backdrop of cannabis in NWT. Historically, cannabis usage in the region was primarily underground due to its prohibited status. However, with nationwide legalization in Canada in 2018 under the Cannabis Act, residents of NWT have been permitted to grow up to four cannabis plants per household for personal use. Still, given the NWT’s unique climate and extended periods of darkness, indoor cultivation has become more prevalent.

Influence of Climate on Cultivation

The Northwest Territories has a subarctic to polar climate, with long, cold winters and short, cool summers. The region’s harsh climate poses challenges for outdoor cultivation:

Limited Growing Season

The short summer period restricts outdoor growing substantially. This limitation means that fast-flowering strains or auto-flowering varieties (which do not rely on photoperiod cues) are often favored for outdoor grows.

Low Light Levels

During winter, NWT experiences polar night, a period when the sun does not rise above the horizon. Conversely, the summer sees the phenomenon of the midnight sun. These extreme light conditions can impact the vegetative and flowering stages of cannabis plants.

Cold Temperatures

Frost can occur at any time of year in NWT. Cold-resistant strains and greenhouse cultivation techniques can help mitigate the risks associated with these cold temperatures.

Popular Cannabis Strains in NWT

Given the unique growing conditions in NWT, certain strains have gained popularity due to their resilience and suitability to the climate, or for their particular effects which cater to the preferences of the local populace:

Northern Lights

Aptly named, Northern Lights is a strain well-suited for the Northern climate. It’s an indica-dominant strain, known for its resilience and relatively quick flowering time. It offers a relaxing, sedative effect.

Auto-flowering Ruderalis Hybrids

Cannabis Ruderalis is a hardy variety that originates from colder climates and has the auto-flowering trait. Strains derived from Ruderalis, such as Auto AK-47 or Auto Blueberry, can automatically transition from the vegetative to flowering stage regardless of the light cycle, making them ideal for NWT’s unique daylight patterns.

White Widow

An indica-dominant hybrid, White Widow, is favored for its resistance to molds and pests. Its balanced high and substantial resin production also make it a popular choice among growers and users alike.

Cultural Implications and Usage Patterns

The introduction of legal cannabis in the NWT has had several cultural implications:

Indigenous Communities

Cannabis has been both embraced and rejected by various Indigenous communities within NWT. Some see it as a form of natural medicine and economic opportunity, while others have reservations due to concerns about mental health or substance abuse.

Economic Development

The legal cannabis industry has opened up job opportunities in cultivation, retail, and ancillary services. The growth of cannabis tourism, where enthusiasts travel to experience cannabis culture or products, is also a potential avenue for economic development in NWT.

Public Health

With legalization, there has been an emphasis on public health and education around safe cannabis consumption. The government has implemented programs to raise awareness about the risks of impaired driving, the effects of cannabis on young brains, and the importance of storing cannabis products safely away from children.


The legalization of cannabis in Canada has presented a unique set of opportunities and challenges for the Northwest Territories. While the region’s distinct climate influences the strains of cannabis that are grown and the cultivation methods used, the cultural and economic implications of legalization are vast and varied. As the cannabis industry continues to evolve in NWT, it will be interesting to observe how local strains, cultivation techniques, and cultural attitudes adapt and change in response to this rapidly shifting landscape.