Cannabis

The federal government legalized non-medical cannabis on October 17, 2018.

As of October 17, 2019, federal cannabis regulations allow commercial production and sale of edible cannabis, cannabis extracts, and cannabis topicals. Licensed producers must provide the federal government with 60 days’ notice prior to making a new cannabis product available for sale. Consequently, consumers can expect the new classes of products to appear gradually in legal stores beginning in late-December 2019.

In B.C., responsibility for non-medical cannabis is shared among several areas of government including:

Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Secretariat

The Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Secretariat led the development of the provincial non-medical cannabis framework and is the central coordinating body for non-medical cannabis policy across the provincial government. The Secretariat can be contacted at: cannabis.secretariat@gov.bc.ca.  

Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch

The Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) is responsible for licensing non-medical cannabis private stores and monitoring the non-medical cannabis retail sector. Visit LCRB’s non-medical cannabis retail licence page for information about locations of licensed stores and how to become a non-medical cannabis retailer in B.C.

Liquor Distribution Branch/BC Cannabis Stores

The Liquor Distribution Branch is B.C.’s wholesale distributor of non-medical cannabis and runs BC Cannabis Stores.  Visit the BC Cannabis Stores page for further information.

Community Safety Unit

The Community Safety Unit (CSU) is responsible for compliance and enforcement with respect to sales by unlicensed retailers under the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act. Visit the CSU’s website  for more information about CSU activities.

The main pieces of legislation related to non-medical cannabis in British Columbia are:

Cannabis Control and Licensing Act (CCLA)

The Cannabis Control and Licensing 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 Act:

  • Sets 19 as the provincial minimum age to purchase sell or consume cannabis
  • Allows adults to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis in a public place
  • Prohibits 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
  • Prohibits the use of cannabis on school properties and in vehicles
  • Authorizes 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 is banned in homes used as day-cares
  • Establishes a cannabis retail licensing regime similar to the current licensing regime for liquor
  • Provides enforcement authority to deal with illegal sales
  • Creates 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
  • Where necessary, provides exemptions for individuals federally authorized to purchase, possess and consume medical cannabis

Cannabis Distribution Act (CDA)

The Cannabis Distribution Act establishes:

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

The Liquor Distribution Branch is the wholesale distributor of non-medical cannabis in B.C. and runs BC Cannabis Stores.

Motor Vehicle Act amendments

B.C. made changes to the Motor Vehicle Act to provide police with more tools to address and deter drug-affected driving. New drivers in the Province’s Graduated Licensing Program now have a zero-tolerance restriction for the presence of drugs, such as THC and cocaine, in their body. The Administrative Driving Prohibition (ADP) was expanded on July 15, 2019, to include drug affected driving. Please see the Driving prohibitions expand with cannabis legalization factsheet,  to learn more about the 90-day administrative driving prohibition for any drug-affected driver, or driver with a blood drug concentration equal to or exceeding the legal limits under the Motor Vehicle Act.