In preparation for the federal government's legalization of non-medical cannabis in July 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.’s Approach to Cannabis Legalization

Our provincial regulatory framework sets the stage for the legal and responsible use of cannabis by British Columbians. British Columbia’s top priorities are protecting young people, promoting health and safety, keeping the criminal element out of cannabis, keeping our roads safe, and supporting economic development.

The Province has made the following regulatory decisions:

Minimum Age of Possession

British Columbia’s minimum age to possess, purchase and consume cannabis will be 19 years old.  A minimum age of 19 is consistent with B.C.’s minimum age for alcohol and tobacco and with the age of majority in B.C.

Retail Framework

British Columbians of legal age will be able to purchase non-medical cannabis through privately run retail stores or government-operated retail stores and online sales. The BC Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) will operate the public retail stores, and Liquor Control and Licensing Branch (LCLB) will be responsible for licensing private stores and monitoring the retail sector. The operating rules governing public and private retail stores will be similar to those currently in place for liquor. In urban areas, licensed retailers will not be able to sell cannabis in the same stores as liquor or tobacco.

The Province recognizes retail access for people in rural areas will require a different approach than those used in urban communities and will establish exceptions for rural non-medical cannabis retail stores, similar to those of rural liquor stores.

This spring, the Province will launch an early registration process for individuals and businesses who are interested in applying for a cannabis retail licence. Information for potential applicants can be found in the B.C. Cannabis Retail Licensing Guide (PDF).

Wholesale Distribution Framework

Like many other provinces, B.C. will have a government-run wholesale distribution model. The LDB will be the wholesale distributor of non-medical cannabis in B.C.

Personal public possession limits

Adults aged 19 and above, will be allowed to possess up to 30 grams of non-medical cannabis in a public place, which aligns with the federal government's proposed possession limit for adults.

Places of use

B.C. will generally allow adults to use non-medical cannabis in public spaces where tobacco smoking and vaping are permitted. However, to minimize child and youth exposure, smoking and vaping of non-medical cannabis will be banned in areas frequented by children, including community beaches, parks and playgrounds.  Use of cannabis, in any form will also be banned for all occupants in vehicles.

Local governments will be able to set additional restrictions, as they do now for tobacco use.  In addition, landlords and strata councils will be able to restrict or prohibit non-medical cannabis smoking at tenanted and strata properties.

Personal cultivation

B.C. will align with the proposed federal legislation and allow adults to grow up to four cannabis plants per household, but the plants must not be visible from public spaces off the property. Home cultivation of non-medical cannabis will be banned in dwellings used as daycares. In addition, landlords and strata councils will be able restrict or prohibit home cultivation.

Drug Impaired Driving

Drug impaired driving will continue to be illegal in B.C. The Province will increase training for law enforcement in this area and toughen provincial regulations to give police more tools to remove drug-impaired drivers from the road and deter drug-affected driving, including:

  • B.C. will create a new 90-day Administrative Driving Prohibition (ADP) for drug affected driving
  • The current zero tolerance restrictions for the presence of alcohol for drivers in the Graduated Licensing Program (GLP) will be expanded to include zero tolerance for the presence of THC