Ottawa has set the date, but they haven’t set the rules. With the provinces now responsible for administering the legal use of recreational cannabis, British Columbia needs to answer these three questions before our province can be certain that we’re ready.
July 1st, 2018—We know the date but we aren’t quite sure exactly how we’re going to proceed. Canada is set to lead the world in legalizing the use of recreational cannabis, a move that will have an immense impact on our personal lives, businesses, and the legal code.
As far as how the new regulations will affect those with criminal records, it is still unclear; but the first steps need to be in line with the administration and distribution of cannabis. Here are three pressing questions that need answering:
Who will be able to buy cannabis?
Regardless of your stance on the issue, restricting the sale of the drug to adults is something that Ottawa has made a priority. Will the legal age be 18? Who is responsible for setting the age limit?
It seems as though the government will leave that decision up to the provinces. British Columbia is notorious for its strict laws, especially with regards to operating vehicles under the influence (more on that to come), and that is reflected in our higher legal drinking age. If the drinking age is 19, then Cannabis will most likely be sold to those 19 years and older. However, with recent studies showing the effects of cannabis on the developing brain (25 and younger) and on college students, will the province have to make the laws more stringent?
How much will it cost?
The government of British Columbia must now toe a thin line in the balancing act of pricing legal marijuana. On one hand, it must be attractive enough for citizens to purchase and generate vital tax revenue. On the other hand, it must be responsibly priced to control consumption. The government also must determine how it will control an already functioning market. With the high taxes on drugs and tobacco already a major source of government revenue, the people of B.C. should prepare themselves for punitive provincial taxes on the sale of cannabis, as well, which begs the question: if government cannabis is too expensive, will illegal cannabis still reign supreme?
How strictly will driving laws be enforced?
Changes to B.C. driving regulation have increased the penalties for those caught driving under the influence of THC. How strictly will these laws be enforced? And, more importantly, how will they stand up in court. Challenges are already mounting to what are seen as overly punitive penalties based on test results that aren’t always reliable.
Canada has, for the most part, welcomed recreational cannabis; however, the provinces still have questions to answer in relation to the administration of the drug, especially regarding its distribution, price, and law enforcement. If you’ve been charged with operating your vehicle under the influence of THC or alcohol, you have rights. Contact a criminal defence lawyer to take the first steps toward keeping your driving record intact!