BC's new cannabis laws can land you in jail

Jun 23 2018, 3:06 am

On May 31, British Columbia quietly passed its new cannabis legislation.

Bill 30, the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act, and Bill 31, the Cannabis Distribution Act, received royal assent and will come into effect to coincide with Bill C-45, Canada’s federal Cannabis Act.

Daily Hive spoke on the phone with Courtland Sandover-Sly, President of the British Columbia Independent Cannabis Association (BCICA) and a partner at Groundwork Consulting, about BC’s new laws and how they will affect the public.

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Public intoxication

“What’s most concerning are punitive jail sentences for consuming cannabis in a public place or being intoxicated on cannabis in a public place,” said Sandover-Sly.

“The provincial government has put in place three-month custodial sentences attached to each one of those transgressions.”

According to Bill 30, “a peace officer may arrest, without a warrant, a person whom the peace officer believes on reasonable grounds is contravening subsection.”

This leaves it to the discretion of an officer to decide if you are high in public, which could lead to possible jail time. There has been much talk recently about the roadside testing of intoxication, as there are no valid measures currently available.

Public consumption

“The provincial government has not allowed for cannabis consumption spaces. It’s going to result in a situation where people who rent or are in a condo or strata situation with no-smoking bylaws in place will have nowhere to go,” said  Sandover-Sly. “They won’t able to smoke at home, they won’t be able to smoke in public, they won’t have cannabis lounges to go to.”

“This will target people of lower economic status,” said Sandover-Sly. “You would have to have private property that is not in view of the general public to consume your cannabis legally in BC.”

Given the prolific cannabis community in BC, “the government has created a situation where these laws may become untenable right off the hop.”

Transitioning to the legal market

“Owning a dispensary or previous associations will not automatically disqualify people from being able to get a license. People with a criminal record will not be explicitly prevented from getting a license. It will be based on the nature and recentness of the crime and a few other factors,” said Sandover-Sly.

“The BCICA is asking all current members of the industry to consider complying with new laws. We would like to see all members of the current black market included.”

While the response from the industry has been mostly positive, “there are other people in the industry who have said they don’t want to participate.”

“Because of the fraught nature of the relationship between the cannabis industry and authorities in general over the last almost 100 years of prohibition, it has created a situation where these cannabis growers and consumers do not trust the government and for good reason.”

“The government has been trying to throw them in jail for a long time. The government has been destroying their lives. To suddenly go, ‘okay, I like the government, I’m going to work for the government,’ that’s a tough pill for a lot of people to swallow.”

Sandover-Sly continues to encourage the transition to the legal market, stating “maybe now’s the time to at least consider it.”

The BC legislature is on holiday until October 1, and the BCICA is encouraging all BC residents to get involved with the upcoming legalization process and help create meaningful legislation.

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