Legislation for Cannabis Control & Licensing, Distribution

On April 26, 2018, the Province introduced cannabis legalization legislation, the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act and Cannabis Distribution Act, as well as key amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act. The Province expects to open the first government-operated retail store and introduce online sales by late summer 2018.

The proposed Cannabis Control and Licensing Act provides clarity to previously announced regulations that addressed retail sales; distribution; minimum age to purchase and consume; personal possession; public consumption; personal cultivation; and, drug-impaired driving. In addition to these regulations, the Act creates new cannabis offences, as well as the enforcement authority to issue fines ranging from $2,000 - $100,000 and recommend imprisonment of 3-12 months. A new provincial community safety unit is being created to address enforcement against illegal dispensaries and others operating outside the legalized framework.

The proposed Cannabis Distribution Act places the Province in charge of non-medical cannabis wholesale distribution, and establishes government-run retail outlets and online sales.

Changes to the Motor Vehicle Act will allow for a 90-day Administrative Driving Prohibition to be placed on drivers reasonably believed to be under the influence of drugs, as well as a zero tolerance policy for drivers in the Graduated Licensing Program who are found with THC in their systems.

Government-run cannabis stores will operate under the brand “B.C. Cannabis Stores”. Retail stores will sell flowers, oils, dried cannabis products. Patrons will be permitted to buy a maximum of 30 grams of dried cannabis (or equivalent) at one time.

The Province has also committed to conducting public awareness and educational campaigns related to drug-impaired driving and health risks associated with cannabis consumption.

Despite the introduction of legislation, there are still a number of key outstanding provincial decisions:

  • Determining the price of non-medical cannabis (including the tax rate);
  • Completing an excise tax revenue sharing agreement with local governments;
  • Finishing development of the rural retail framework;
  • Deciding whether to permit cannabis consumption areas or lounges, a decision that will likely be made after the date of legalization;
  • Completing regulation of non-medical cannabis production on the Agricultural Land Reserve, including a decision on whether production will be permitted at all;
  • Regulating edibles (dependent on federal regulations, to be developed within one year of legalization).

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