British Columbia has revealed its first batch of detailed rules for the legalization of recreational cannabis.
After federal legislation takes effect this July, people at least 19 years of age will be allowed to possess up to 30 grams of marijuana.
Where one can smoke will mostly follow existing regulations for cigarettes and cigars. “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,” reads a provincial February 5 media release.
The B.C. government will give landlords and strata councils the power to forbid both the smoking and cultivation of marijuana indoors. People who own their own homes or have permission from their landlord will be allowed to grow up to four plants for personal use. “But the plants must not be visible from public spaces off the property,” the release adds.
Predictably, cannabis being transported in a vehicle will have to be in the trunk or a sealed container (the same as alcohol). And police will be given additional resources to crack down on anyone driving a car who’s impaired by cannabis. For new drivers, there will be a zero-tolerance policy (again, as with alcohol).
“B.C. will create a new 90-day administrative driving prohibition (ADP) for drug-affected driving,” adds the release.
For Vancouver residents, perhaps the biggest question ahead of legalization is whether storefront dispensaries will be allowed to continue. It is estimated that there are about 100 of them in Vancouver already, and many owners have sunk significant investments into those businesses.
Today’s release suggests that most of those stores will be allowed to remain where they are, providing they fulfill new bureaucratic requirements.
“This spring, the Province will launch an early registration process for individuals and businesses who are interested in applying for a cannabis retail licence,” the release explains. “Although B.C. will not cap the number of retail licences available, licences will not be issued without the support of local governments, which will have the authority to make local decisions, based on the needs of their communities.”
In B.C., marijuana will not be sold alongside alcohol. That means the provincial government’s existing B.C. Liquor Stores won’t be stocking the drug.
“To promote responsible use, licensed retailers will not be able to sell cannabis in the same stores as liquor or tobacco,” the release states.
The province can, however, open separate cannabis storefronts that will compete with private locations.
The whole system will be monitored by B.C.’s existing regulatory enforcer that watches over alcohol sales. “The Liquor Control and Licensing Branch (LCLB) will be responsible for licensing private stores and monitoring the retail sector,” the release reads.
Only the provincial government will be allowed to make sales online.
Mike Farnworth, the B.C. minister of public safety and solicitor general, emphasizes in the release that many aspects of the framework B.C. will implement for recreational cannabis remain under development.
"National legalization of non-medical cannabis represents an historic shift in public policy,” he said. “This provincial regulatory framework provides a sound foundation to support the provincial goals that prioritize public health and safety. That said, July 2018 is only the beginning of our journey, and these changes will not happen overnight. We fully anticipate all levels of government will need to continue to assess and refine cannabis policy and regulation in the months and years to come."