B.C. Government introduces new legislation to deal with marijuana legalization
The B.C. government is proposing new rules that would make 19 the minimum age to purchase, sell or consume cannabis, allow adults to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis in a public place and prohibit cannabis smoking and vaping everywhere tobacco smoking and vaping are prohibited.
If passed, the new legislation would also ban the smoking or vaping of recreational marijuana at playgrounds, sports fields and other places where children commonly gather.
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The new legislation has been introduced on Thursday as the province prepares to deal with the new world of legalized recreational marijuana in Canada. The federal government originally set the deadline for July 1, but that has now been moved back to a later date.
“The legislation introduced today provides a sound foundation for the regulation and safe implementation of legalized cannabis in British Columbia,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “This marks a major milestone, and puts our province in position to not only be ready for federal cannabis legalization in late summer, but does so in a way that reflects the province’s goals for legalized cannabis that prioritize public health and safety, particularly for our children and youth.”
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The government formally introduced three pieces of legislation to deal with the major change. The Cannabis Control and Licensing Act gives the province exclusive rights over wholesale distribution of cannabis and provide the authority for public retails sales. British Columbia has decided not to allow the sale of recreational pot in liquor stores, rather the drug will be sold an stand-alone stores that are both government or privately owned.
The province has also announced non-medical cannabis will be sold at government stores called BC Cannabis Stores.
The government has also introduced amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act that will address drug affected driving in B.C. The new rules include a 90-day driving prohibition for any driver who police reasonably believe operated a motor vehicle affected by a drug or by a combination of drug or alcohol. Authorities will be able to hand out the prohibition based on “analysis of a bodily substance or an evaluation by a specially trained police drug recognition expert.”
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New drivers in the Graduated Licensing Program will be subject to a zero-tolerance restriction of the presence of THC, the active ingredient in cannabis.
“As I’ve said before, the date set by the federal government for cannabis legalization will just be the beginning. B.C. will monitor implementation and make any necessary adjustments to provincial regulations to ensure our provincial goals are being met,” said Farnworth.
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Breaking any of the rules create in the legislation would carry with it a fine ranging from $2,000 to $100,000, imprisonment of three to 12 months or a combination of both.
Adults will be allowed to grow up to four cannabis plants per household. The plants must not be visible from public spaces off the property, and home cultivation will be banned in homes used as day cares. The province’s Residential Tenancy Act bans cannabis smoking under existing leases that prohibit smoking tobacco and prohibit the personal cultivation of cannabis under existing leases, except for federally authorized medical cannabis.
The consumption and sale of recreational marijuana will still be illegal, even if this legislation passes, until the federal government makes it legal.
One Vancouver-licensed medical marijuana dispensary is cheering the news, and says it will be first in line for a recreational pot permit once they become available.
But WesCanna dispensary manager Ali Wasuck says the federal and provincial governments should have rolled out a plan to cover all forms of recreational marijuana, including edibles and concentrates.
“Our biggest goal is to be able to kill the black market in this and being able to sell edibles quicker would be a lot better,” he said.
Federal regulation of edible cannabis products is expected next year.
-With files from Emily Lazatin
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