Cannabis

In preparation for the federal government's legalization of non-medical cannabis in late summer 2018, B.C. has made a number of decisions about what our provincial regulatory framework will look like.

Visit regularly for updates on B.C.’s approach to non-medical cannabis laws and regulations, and to find further information on the status of the legalization of cannabis in Canada.

B.C. establishes legislative framework for the legalization of non-medical cannabis

With public health and safety top of mind, the Province has now introduced legislation to provide for legal, controlled access to non-medical cannabis in British Columbia. The legislation and the consequential legislative amendments will ensure a regulatory framework is in place in time for federal legalization of non-medical cannabis. The following regulatory decisions are included in the legislation and amendments:

Cannabis Distribution Act (CDA)

As previously announced, the Province has decided that the Liquor Distribution Branch will be the wholesale distributor of non-medical cannabis in B.C. and will run provincial cannabis retail stores.

The proposed Act will establish:

  • A public wholesale distribution monopoly; and
  • Public (government-run) retail sales, both in stores and online.

Cannabis Control and Licensing Act (CCLA)

The proposed Act is guided by the Province’s priorities of protecting children and youth, promoting health and safety, keeping the criminal element out of cannabis, keeping B.C. roads safe, and supporting economic development.

The proposed Act will:

  • Set 19 as the provincial minimum age to purchase sell or consume cannabis;
  • Allow adults to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis in a public place;
  • Prohibit cannabis smoking and vaping everywhere tobacco smoking and vaping are prohibited, as well as at playgrounds, sports fields, skate parks, and other places where children commonly gather;
  • Prohibit the use of cannabis on school properties and in vehicles;
  • Authorize adults to grow up to four cannabis plants per household, but the plants must not be visible from public spaces off the property, and home cultivation will be banned in homes used as day-cares;
  • Establish a cannabis retail licensing regime similar to the current licensing regime for liquor;
  • Provide enforcement authority to deal with illegal sales;
  • Create a number of provincial cannabis offences which may result in a fine ranging from $2,000 to $100,000, imprisonment of three to 12 months, or both; and
  • Where necessary, to comply with Charter Rights and human rights law, exemptions will be provided to individuals who are federally authorized to purchase, possess and consume medical cannabis.

The CCLA also includes consequential amendments to various statutes, including:

  • Liquor Control and Licensing Act to ensure administrative consistency between that Act and the CCLA;
  • Residential Tenancy Act and Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act to prohibit cannabis smoking under existing leases that prohibit smoking tobacco and to prohibit the personal cultivation of cannabis under existing leases, except for federally authorized medical cannabis. For new leases, the existing provisions of each Act that allow landlords and tenants to negotiate the terms of leases will apply;
  • Police Act to set provincial priorities for policing and require municipal police boards to take provincial priorities and the priorities of the municipal council into account as they develop their own priorities;
  • Community Safety Act to reflect that with legalization cannabis will no longer be a controlled substance under the federal Controlled Drugs and Substances Act;
  • Provincial Sales Tax Act to add a reference to cannabis in the definition of “small seller” consistent with liquor; and
  • Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act to recognize that the CCLA is a complete licensing scheme.

Motor Vehicle Act amendments

B.C. will increase training for law enforcement and will toughen provincial regulations to give police more tools to remove drug-impaired drivers from the road and deter drug-affected driving, including:

  • A new 90-day Administrative Driving Prohibition (ADP) for any driver whom police reasonably believe operated a motor vehicle while affected by a drug or by a combination of a drug and alcohol, based on analysis of a bodily substance or an evaluation by a specially trained police drug recognition expert (DRE); and,
  • New drivers in the Graduated Licensing Program (GLP) will be subject to a zero-tolerance restriction for the presence of THC (the active ingredient in cannabis).

Liquor Distribution Branch Update

The Liquor Distribution Branch, B.C.’s wholesale distributor of non-medical cannabis, is expected to open the first government-operated retail store by late summer, and is working to implement an e-commerce solution to offer online sales to the public. The brand identity and logo for BC Cannabis Stores, developed in-house, will be featured on store fronts and within print material. For further details visit http://www.bcldbcannabisupdates.com.