A Mixed Bag: Cannabis to be sold at Public and Private Stores in BC; Minimum Age is 19

Initial information on how cannabis will be regulated in BC has been released by the provincial government. On December 5, 2017, the Office of the Public Safety and Solicitor General announced that:

• 19 will be the minimum age for possession, purchase, and consumption of cannabis in BC;
• the wholesale distributor of non-medical cannabis will be the BC Liquor Distribution Branch;
• cannabis will be sold at both public and private retail stores.

The provincial government has now made the report from its public and stakeholder engagement initiative publicly available. In anticipation of a provincial regulatory framework for cannabis, local governments should be aware that the report identifies support for:

• A personal possession limit of 30 grams or more;
• Personal cultivation of cannabis;
• Selling cannabis through public stores such as the government-operated BC Liquor Stores, as well as private stores like dispensaries;
• Regulating the public consumption of cannabis, such as restrictions on the public places where cannabis may be consumed that are similar or more restrictive than those identified smoking/vaping legislation;
• Craft cannabis production, similar to craft breweries or vineyards.

The report confirms a commitment to working with local governments through the Joint Provincial-Local Government Committee on Cannabis Regulation. Additional information on what aspects of the provincial cannabis framework that local governments will have authority to regulate, such as the extent to which local governments will be able to regulate the public consumption of cannabis, is not yet available.

Further information on the provincial cannabis framework, including proposed legislation, is expected in early 2018.

Stefanie Ratjen