Cannabis Regulation

Legalization of Cannabis

Joint Provincial-Local Government Committee on Cannabis Regulation

UBCM and the provincial government have established the Joint Provincial-Local Government Committee on Cannabis Regulation (JCCR) to be a forum for local governments to share their experiences and knowledge and discuss issues of interest or concern with the Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Secretariat. The JCCR webpage includes all Committee reports, the Terms of Reference, and other pertinent documents.

UBCM Cannabis Legalization & Regulation Survey
With federal legislation to regulate cannabis expected in spring or summer 2017, UBCM sought member feedback on local government concerns and interests regarding the new regulatory regime. UBCM is using information obtained as part of its survey, in conjunction with policy set by the membership (resolutions 2016-A2 and 2016-A3), to shape its advocacy on behalf of local governments.

Survey Report [PDF - 1.5 MB]: BC Local Government Attitudes Towards the Legalization and Regulation of Marijuana in Canada – May 2017

In June 2016, responding to an election campaign promise, the federal government created a Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation. The Task Force released a discussion paper, Towards the Legalization, Regulation and Restriction of Access to Marijuana, and subsequently engaged with a range of stakeholders. In November 2016, the Task Force released its final report, A Framework for the Legalization and Regulation of Cannabis in Canada. The 80+ recommendations in the final report provide some insight into a potential framework for cannabis regulation and legalization.

During the consultation period, UBCM was able to engage its membership and provide input towards the process to legalize cannabis in three ways:

  • provided information to local governments via The Compass regarding the discussion paper;
  • wrote to the Task Force, requesting consideration for UBCM’s resolutions and work related to the legalization of marijuana; and
  • participated in an FCM teleconference with the Task Force Chair on October 6, 2016.

On April 13, 2017, with an eye to legalizing cannabis by July 1, 2018, the federal government tabled long awaited legislation:

  • Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts
  • Bill C-46, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (offences relating to conveyances) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

The legislation places emphasis on keeping cannabis away from children, and profits out of the hands of criminals. As expected, the federal government will be responsible for the supply of cannabis. It has also been placed in charge of establishing minimum conditions that provincial legislation for distribution and retail would be required to meet to ensure consistency. These minimum conditions are in areas such as minimum consumption age, personal possession limits, and personal cultivation.

Of the responsibilities transferred to provincial and territorial governments as part of Bill C-45, some are constrained by minimum federal conditions, while others remain at the full discretion of provinces and territories. These responsibilities include:

  • setting a minimum age for consumption (federal minimum age 18);
  • establishing distribution and personal possession limits (federal maximum 30 grams per adult, 5 grams per "young person" aged 12-18);
  • regulation of personal cultivation operations (federal maximum of 4 plants per residence);
  • identifying legal locations for adult consumption of cannabis (e.g. public places, vehicles, designated lounges);
  • licensing of cannabis distributors and retailers, and carrying out associated compliance and enforcement activities;
  • establishing provincial zoning rules; and
  • amending provincial traffic safety laws to address impaired driving.

UBCM Resolutions
In 2017, with an eye towards the upcoming legalization of cannabis, UBCM members endorsed Special Resolution SR1:

Therefore be it resolved that the UBCM membership endorse the following principles to guide UBCM’s advocacy with the provincial government regarding local government’s role in a BC framework for cannabis:

  • fulsome and meaningful provincial consultation with local governments;
  • provision of adequate provincial funding to cover any responsibilities and increase in administrative burden of any provincial framework that requires local government participation;
  • equitable sharing of tax revenues from cannabis between all orders of government; and
  • respect for local choice, jurisdiction and authority, including but not limited to land use and zoning decisions.

In 2016, BC local governments endorsed two resolutions [PDF - 32 KB] directly related to the federal government’s plan to legalize cannabis:

Requested that the federal and provincial governments directly involve local government, through UBCM and FCM, in the process of establishing a regulatory approach to marijuana in Canada, while granting all orders of government adequate time to align and integrate regional and local regulations and practices with new federal laws.

Called on the federal government to share with local governments a portion of any future federal or provincial tax collected through marijuana sales and distribution, and asked that the Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation consider the concept of tax sharing with local governments, when looking into the new system of marijuana sales and distribution.

BC Minister of Public Safety & Solicitor General to UBCM re: Legalization of Marijuana [PDF - 467 KB] – Apr 2017
Minister of Justice to UBCM re: Legalization of Marijuana [PDF - 808 KB] – March 2017
UBCM to Bill Blair, MP re: Legalization of Marijuana [PDF - 111 KB] – Mar 2017
UBCM to Minister of Health re: Legalization of Marijuana [PDF - 111 KB] – Mar 2017
UBCM to Minister of Justice re: Legalization of Marijuana [PDF - 111 KB] – Mar 2017
UBCM to BC Minister of Public Safety & Solicitor General re: Legalization of Marijuana [PDF - 123 KB] – Mar 2017
UBCM to BC Minister of Justice & Attorney General re: Legalization of Marijuana [PDF - 123 KB] – Mar 2017
UBCM to BC Minister of Health re: Legalization of Marijuana [PDF - 123 KB] – Mar 2017
Cannabis Legalization & Regulation Secretariat to UBCM re: Legalization of Marijuana [PDF - 498 KB] – Dec 2016
UBCM to Cannabis Legalization & Regulation Secretariat re: Legalization of Marijuana [PDF - 432 KB] – Aug 2016

Health Canada Consultation on Cannabis Regulation – Nov 2017
One Week Left for Cannabis Engagement – Oct 2017
UBCM Focused on Cannabis Legalization, Housing – Sep 2017
Local Governments, Stakeholders Discuss Cannabis Legalization – Sep 2017
Cannabis Legalization Update – Sep 2017
Analysis of Marijuana Survey – June 2017
Federal Marijuana Legislation Introduced – May 2017
Marijuana Survey Underway – April 2017
Update on Marijuana Legalization – April 2017
Input Sought for Marijuana Regulation – Mar 2017
Ruling Allows Municipal Regulation of Dispensaries – Feb 2017
Marijuana Legalization Task Force Releases Report – Dec 2016
Federal Marijuana Legalization Task Force Report Due Soon – Nov 2016
Marijuana Dispensaries – Sep 2016
Forums Focus: Streetside Health Care; Reconciliation; Marijuana Dispensaries – Sep 2016
Marijuana Task Force Seeks Feedback – July 2016
Filling the Leadership Void in Marijuana Regulation – Sep 2015

Medical Marijuana

Released in 2013, the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulation (MMPR) took effect on April 1, 2014. The regulatory framework administered by Health Canada ended the practice of individuals growing medical marijuana in private dwellings by creating a licensing system for a limited number of third parties to produce and distribute medical marijuana.

To obtain a licence, producers are required to notify local police, fire and government authorities, specifying their location and activities.

Originally, only dried marijuana was to be produced, sold and possessed. This regulation was changed in June 2015, after the Supreme Court ruled that this restriction violated the right to liberty and security in a manner contrary to the principles of fundamental justice. In February 2016, a federal judge struck down the federal regulations that had prohibited patients from growing their own marijuana.


Bhar Sihota, Policy Analyst
604 270 8226 ext. 114

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