Like other provinces across Canada, British Columbia is in the process of finalizing the regulatory framework that will govern its cannabis industry, from production to sale. For many provinces, B.C. included, the process of making the laws and rules for non-medical cannabis has been an ongoing one. But now that federal adult use legalization will go into effect this summer, provinces want to make sure they’re prepared and have their laws in place.
Recently, British Columbia passed its Cannabis Control and Licensing Act. The details of the Act are worth paying attention to, especially because B.C. is the largest producer of cannabis in Canada Here’s what to expect when legalization takes effect this summer.
What Can Consumers Expect From British Columbia Cannabis Laws?
In terms of age limits, consumption restrictions, and home grow allowances, British Columbia‘s rules are mostly identical to other provinces. But B.C. is taking a different approach to driving under the influence of cannabis.
B.C.’s Cannabis Control and Licensing Act sets 19 as the age minimum for legally buying and consuming cannabis. Unlike Quebec, however, where the age minimum was a serious point of contention among members of parliament, B.C. adopted Ottawa’s federal age minimum without issue.
Purchase and Possession Limits
B.C.’s rules for individual purchases limit single transactions to 30 grams of dried cannabis. 30 grams is roughly equal to one ounce of marijuana.
But non-medical cannabis consumers will only be able to purchase died cannabis products in British Columbia. However, a last-minute amendment to Bill C-45, Canada’s legal weed legislation, legalized the sale of edibles on the non-medical market.
So it’s likely that British Columbia will amend the provincial rules to match. Cannabis leaders insist that legal edibles are essential to combat the black market, a stated goal of B.C.’s own program.
Home Cultivation Limits
Also in accord with federal statutes, B.C. has set private cultivation rules that limit growers to four mature cannabis plants. Additionally, growers must ensure their plants are out of public view. The law also forbids homes that operate as day-care facilities from cultivating cannabis.
Where To Purchase Legal Cannabis?
B.C. non-medical cannabis consumers have two options for purchasing cannabis. First, they can buy from public government-run stores in person and online. Second, they can purchase non-medical cannabis from privately-owned retail companies, again in person or online.
Where Can You Legally Consume Cannabis?
B.C. allows cannabis users to smoke or vape cannabis products anywhere it is legal to smoke tobacco. And vice versa, meaning wherever tobacco is a no go, so is cannabis.
As is common in other provinces, the rules ban all cannabis consumption at playgrounds, sports fields, parks, or other places where children commonly gather. Cannabis use is also strictly prohibited in vehicles and on school properties.
B.C.’s “Administrative Driving Probation”
British Columbia cannabis laws represent a concerted effort by the provincial government to crack down on drug-impaired driving. B.C. has perhaps gone further than any other province to detect and deter drivers under the influence of cannabis.
If you’re a cannabis consumer in B.C., expect a heightened police presence on roadways. British Columbia cannabis laws don’t just increase training and funding to help police get drug-impaired drivers off the road.
They also set up a new 90-day Administrative Driving Prohibition that revokes driving privileges for any the police “reasonably believe” operated a motor vehicle under the influence of cannabis or other drugs.
Furthermore, new drivers in British Columbia will be subject to a “zero-tolerance” policy for the presence of THC. In other words, if you get your license at any point after the law takes effect, even the slightest trace of THC will land you in hot water.
Indeed, B.C. cannabis users should expect a new run of cannabis offenses. Fines and sentences for those offenses range from $2,000 to $100,000 and could include three to 12 months behind bars.
What Can Businesses Expect From British Columbia Cannabis Laws?
The trend among most provinces has been to set up a regulatory framework for cannabis on the model of that used for liquor. And B.C. is no exception. However, the allowance for privately-run retail stores makes British Columbia different than, say, Quebec.
Liquor Control and Licensing Will Monitor B.C. Cannabis Businesses
If you own or operate a private non-medical cannabis store in B.C., then you’ll need to get your license through the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch (LCLB).
The CCLA provides B.C. businesses with a complete licensing scheme. This government agency will also monitor all activity in the non-medical cannabis retail sector. Importantly, the law prohibits cannabis retail stores from selling alcohol or tobacco products.
British Columbia Will Have A Public Wholesale Distribution Monopoly
British Columbia’s Cannabis Distribution Act establishes a public whole distribution monopoly. That means that the supply of cannabis to retailers and processors will be entirely run by the government.
The province’s Liquor Distribution Branch will have the responsibility of running the wholesale distribution of non-medical cannabis.
Protection For Smaller Cannabis Retailers
To keep the industry competitive, British Columbia cannabis law adds a reference to cannabis in the Provincial Sales Tax Act’s definition of “small seller”. One of the more unique aspects of B.C.’s rules, the reference to cannabis will help protect small businesses from being swallowed up by B.C.’s juggernaut cannabis companies.
British Columbia Cannabis Laws
For the most part, B.C.’s cannabis industry is praising the government’s regulatory framework. Though there are concerns about a government monopoly on wholesale distribution.
Some items still remain to be decided, including prices and timetable. Both are awaiting final approval of the federal legislation.