Cannabis Legislation Now in Force

Approximately 18 months after the federal government introduced legislation to legalize and regulate non-medical cannabis, the Cannabis Act is now in force. This represents a major shift in public policy, impacting local governments in areas including enforcement, land use management and administration/licensing.

Provincially, control over the sale, supply and possession of non-medical cannabis is established through the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act. The Cannabis Distribution Act establishes the provincial government’s role as the lone wholesale distributor of non-medical cannabis in BC. In preparation for legalization, the provincial government, on October 5, 2018, released new and amended regulations for BC’s legalized non-medical cannabis system. Notable regulatory changes include:

  • A maximum possession limit of 1,000 grams for non-public places (e.g. at home);
  • Prohibiting smoking and vaping within six metres of doorways, windows, air intakes of public buildings, bus stops, or bus shelters;
  • Permitting indoor consumption of cannabis in certain public places (e.g. hotel rooms (if permitted), designated rooms in hospitals, assisted living facilities and retirement homes);
  • Allowing consumption of cannabis in recreational vehicles and trailers if they are parked where camping is permitted and being used as a private residence;
  • Exemptions for the consumption of medical cannabis on school property, buses, trains and boats;
  • Prohibiting the operation of a cannabis delivery service;
  • Finalizing violation ticket fines -- $230 for smoking cannabis in a prohibited area, and $58 for vaping in a prohibited area;
  • Applying the 7% PST to all cannabis sales (medical and non-medical), in addition to the GST, federal excise tax and 15% wholesale mark-up issued by the LDB.

Pending local government approval, the City of Kamloops will be host to the first provincial non-medical cannabis retail store. The Province has received 173 paid applications for private retail operations, all of which are at various stages of the licensing process. All proposals, including those for public retail operations, require local government approval in order to be considered for a provincial licence.

In addition to their role in approving retail applications, local governments will be impacted by a number of aspects related to the new legalized regime. UBCM has developed Cannabis Legalization in Your Community, a primer for BC local governments, providing broad information regarding local areas of responsibility and other impacts resulting from the legalized cannabis regime. The primer also includes a list of resources and provincial contacts.

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