BC government unveils strict rules for legal possession and purchase of cannabis

Feb 6 2018, 4:18 am

Those hoping for a one-stop shopping experience when it comes to legally buying weed and alcohol in BC this summer are out of luck.

Today, Solicitor General Mike Farnworth unveiled a number of rules and regulations surrounding the legal sale of cannabis in BC.

Among them? Sales of marijuana and alcohol will not be permitted within the same store.

“National legalization of non-medical cannabis represents an historic shift in public policy, ” said Farnworth.

“This provincial regulatory framework provides a sound foundation to support the provincial goals that prioritize public health and safety.”

The framework comes as a result of “months of engagement, additional research and analysis,” he added. “We continue to build the province’s regulatory framework and have set policy direction on other key aspects of how non-medical cannabis will be regulated in BC.”

These decisions, he furthered, “include safeguards for the retail sales of non-medical cannabis and are driven by our priorities of protecting youth, promoting health and safety, keeping the criminal element out of cannabis and keeping our roads safe.”

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Some of the other rules include:

Personal possession

Cannabis will only be available for legal purchase to adults over 19 years old, the province said. And those of legal age will only be allowed to possess up to 30 grams of non-medical cannabis in a public place.

This, the province noted, “aligns with the federal government’s proposed possession limit for adults.”

Those under the age of 19 won’t be allowed to possess any amount of non-medical cannabis.

Additionally, cannabis transported in a motor vehicle will need to be in a sealed package, or inaccessible to vehicle occupants.

Places of use

Using cannabis publicly will be allowed in the same places where smoking and vaping are currently allowed, the province said.

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.

Finally, the government will allow municipalities to set restrictions on the use, similar to current tobacco regulations.

For example, landlords and strata councils will be able to restrict or prohibit non-medical cannabis smoking and vaping at tenanted and strata properties.

Retail sales

Weed will be made available for purchase in privately-run run retail stores or government-operated retail stores and government online sales, similar to the current sale of alcohol.

However, “to promote responsible use,” licensed retailers will not be able to sell cannabis in the same stores as liquor or tobacco.

Farnworth said that decision was made with the input of  provincial health officials and agencies.

“We took seriously the advice of public health officials in making decisions not to have alcohol and weed for sale in the same store,” he explained.

BC’s Liquor Distribution Branch will operate a new “standalone network of public retail stores” and the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch will be responsible for licensing private stores and monitoring the retail sector.

In urban areas, licensed retailers will only be allowed to sell cannabis and cannabis accessories, and will be prohibited from selling other products, such as food, gas, clothing and lottery tickets.

And while BC will not will not cap the number of licenses issued throughout the province, municipalities will have the ability to make decisions based on community needs, he explained.

What works in Vancouver, he said, doesn’t necessarily work in rural communities.

The criteria for determining these rules, he added, are currently being developed.

In addition, Farnworth said the province has no plans to “allow direct producer-sales at the farm gate, if you like.”

All products, he explained, “will be sold through the provincial distribution branch. That’s the only way the product will be able to get out in to the retail market.”

Personal cultivation

The province said it plans to align with the proposed federal legislation and allow adults to grow up to four cannabis plants per household. However, 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 day cares, as well.

Landlords and strata councils will be able restrict or prohibit home cultivation, as well.

Drug-impaired driving

Just like drinking and driving, drug-impaired driving wil be illegal in BC and the province said it plans to increase enforcement training to help deal with the issue.

Additionally, the government will “toughen” provincial regulations to give police more tools to remove drug-impaired drivers from the road and deter drug-affected driving.

As well, 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.

“Many decisions left to be made”

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Farnworth said the issue was a “very-much evolving” one.

“There are still many more decisions left to be made and much more work left to do,” he said. “The government will be dealing with his significant change in policy for years to come.”

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