With marijuana legalization to officially come into effect on October 17th, BC is making the preparations necessary. As a Canadian citizen, it’s important to understand the legal consequences you could face if you do not adhere to the laws. Marijuana laws will vary from province to province, making it crucial to stay informed. The differences between provincial laws include the legal age of consumption and the distribution model.
Understanding the BC Laws
In BC, the cannabis legalization laws are referred to as the Cannabis Control and Licencing Act (CCLA). The act was developed with the goal of keeping BC citizens and youth safe, while decriminalizing marijuana and supporting the local economy.
The act states:
- The legal minimum age to purchase or consume cannabis is 19.
- An individual may possess a maximum of 30 grams in a public space.
- It is illegal to use marijuana in areas where smoking and vaping are prohibited.
- The use of marijuana on school properties and in vehicles is prohibited.
- Adults may grow a maximum of four cannabis plants per household, but they cannot be visible to public sight.
- There will be a cannabis licensing regime similar to the liquor licensing regime.
- There will be an enforcement authority to handle illegal sales.
- There will be a number of provincial cannabis offences, with fines ranging from $2,000 to $100,000, imprisonment of 3 to 12 months, or a combination of the two.
- Individuals must adhere to the Charter Rights and human rights law when necessary.
Will Current Dispensaries Stay Open?
BC has many dispensaries targeted at those using marijuana for medical use. These dispensaries may apply for a licence but will be subject to background checks and the decision of the local municipality. This will result in a period of transition, as these retailers conform to the new regulations.
In Ontario, current dispensaries will shut down due to the fact that Ontario Cannabis Store will be the only retailer. This is similar to the regulations surrounding liquor stores in the province, given that there is only the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO).
Are There Changes in How Laws are Enforced?
Because marijuana legalization is new in Canada, the government is taking several measures to ensure the regulations are enforced. First and foremost, the government has made changes to the Motor Vehicle Act, allowing officers to penalize drivers for having marijuana content in their system. The federal government will also spend $81 million over a five-year time period to aid in officer training in addition to a public awareness campaign regarding the use of marijuana while driving.
To combat dispensaries selling to underage customers, there will be an initiative using teenagers as undercover shoppers. This is similar to a program already in place to discover which liquor store locations are selling to minors.
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