Victoria – The Province has introduced legislation to provide for legal, controlled access to non-medical cannabis in British Columbia.
“The legislation introduced today provides a sound foundation for the regulation and safe implementation of legalized cannabis in British Columbia,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “This marks a major milestone, and puts our province in position to not only be ready for federal cannabis legalization in late summer, but does so in a way that reflects the Province’s goals for legalized cannabis that prioritize public health and safety, particularly for our children and youth.”
The proposed Cannabis Distribution Act (CDA) will establish the Province’s exclusive jurisdiction over wholesale distribution of cannabis, and provide authority for public retail sales.
NOTE: Until laws change, the use of non-medical cannabis is still illegal in British Columbia.
The proposed Cannabis Control and Licensing Act (CCLA) establishes provincial control over the sale, supply and possession of non-medical cannabis, and establishes licensing of private cannabis retailers, including registration and training requirements for those who will work in cannabis retail. The act outlines restrictions on the possession, personal cultivation and consumption of cannabis by adults and prohibitions for minors.
In addition, the act includes an extensive compliance and enforcement regime to ensure legalization of non-medical cannabis protects children and youth, prioritizes public health and safety, keeps cannabis out of the hands of criminals and keeps roads safe. A key component of this enforcement regime will be a new community safety unit that will target illegal sellers.
The Province engaged local governments, and Indigenous governments and organizations as part of the development of the CDA and CCLA. Engagement with these governments and organizations is ongoing.
In addition, amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act (MVA) will address drug-affected driving in British Columbia. A first phase of proposed amendments to the MVA will provide police with additional tools to remove drug-affected drivers from the road.
The legislature will now take time to debate and review the proposed pieces of legislation, before they are finalized and passed into law. Provincial implementation timelines are dependent upon the proposed federal legislation receiving royal assent.
In anticipation of federal legalization, the Province will focus on the development of the regulations and supporting policies to prepare for the legalization of non-medical cannabis in British Columbia. Prior to legalization, Government will also launch public awareness and education campaigns related to the health impacts of cannabis use and the risks of drug-affected driving.
Additionally, 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
British Columbia establishes legislative framework for the legalization of non-medical cannabis
Provincial legislation and the consequential legislative amendments related to the legalization of non-medial cannabis have been introduced, to 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. However, 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-affected drivers from the road and deter drug-affected driving, including:
- A new 90-day Administrative Driving Prohibition (ADP) for any driver who 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).