UPDATED 02/05: Proposed cannabis laws for each province

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The July deadline for cannabis legalization looms heavy. The federal government has made it clear last year that the provinces would be on their own for designing a method to control and regulate how and where Canadians score their smoke.

As it stands, municipal governments are not ready to deal with the coming tide of demand and use. Many have not even cemented the laws and regulations they will be using to meet the criteria the federal government has laid out in bill C-45 – the bill that amends the criminal code to end cannabis prohibition.

The Leafy North has combed through each proposal and is highlighting the main points of each province and territory’s considerations.

British Columbia

https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2017PSSG0077-002017

Age & consumption:

The minimum age to possess, purchase and consume cannabis will be set at 19 years old, the same requirements set for alcohol and tobacco. Its not surprising since B.C.’s official age of majority is 19.

The primary concern is to keep children and pedestrians from being exposed to second hand smoke. For this reason, cannabis will be allowed to be consumed on private properties.

The province has discussed restricting its use in public to what they call “designated smoking zones.”

Growing & possession

It is likely British Columbia intends to allow the maximum of four plants allowed in the Cannabis act. However, their public statements and releases do not mention how many plants will be allowed per residence.

The lobby group LandlordBC, has been actively advocating to ban growing in apartments and rental properties. There has not been a concrete announcement related to how

Retail & distribution

B.C. plans on controlling cannabis with a government-run wholesaler. The BC Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) will become distributor of all non-medical cannabis.

The province will not be the sole retailer of the product. According to documents released by the BC government both public and private sellers will be allowed. This keeps everything in line with how B.C. regulates alcohol.

No word on how licenses will be distributed or how many.

Overall:

B.C. has one of the most progressive legalization strategies. The government plans to allow a private retail space combined with a single government distributer can let the province set the price.

Having one public supplier does mean that product shortages can easily affect the public green economy. The responsibility of licencing growers falls to the federal government, so provinces will have no control over how much or how little is being produced.

The province is conducted a large scale public inquiry that took input from 48,951 British Columbians, and submissions from 141 local and Indigenous governments. The result make up a framework for a reasonable but not extremely restrictive environment.

Yukon

 

Age & consumption

In Yukon, adults 19 and older will be allowed to possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis in public. Most residents were found to agree with this restriction. A lower age of 18 polled at just above 20 percent.

The government is saying it would limit recreational consumption to privately owned residences and adjoining property, where permitted by the owner, while providing for the potential to allow

Growing & possession

Yukon proposes aligning with the federal government’s decision and allow adults to grow up to four plants per household for personal use.

Commercial grow licences can only be distributed at the federal level.

Retail & distribution

Like B.C., the Government of Yukon will have the sole authority to import, store, transport and distribute cannabis within Yukon for commercial purposes. The expressed purpose of this is to “ensures the legitimacy and quality of cannabis for retail sale.”

The most recent proposal does not give a clear picture of how retail licencing will be administered but does indicate that there will be private sales. However, the Yukon will not allow cannabis to be sold in retail locations that sell alcohol.

Overall

The Yukon has presented a clear picture of how they intend to proceed with legalization. The government has chosen to adopt a balance. Much is still to be determined, but the proposed plans resemble its neighbour B.C.

Like most provinces, they conducted a large scale public survey to establish a baseline of how-to legislate.

Alberta

Age & consumption

Alberta has chosen to set a minimum age of 18 to buy or consume cannabis. While lower than most provinces this matches the provinces drinking age.

Smoking and vaping in public will fall under existing tobacco laws. This means no smoking near building entrances or on bar patios.

No smoking or vaping in vehicles will be permitted. This includes passengers.

Growing & possession

Alberta will allow four plants to be grown per household. There is a maximum height restriction of one metre each.

There will also be a prohibition against any outdoor growing. The goal being to limit access to cannabis by minors.

The public possession limit is 30 grams but there is no proposed limit on possession in private residences.

Retail & distribution

Like the Yukon, Alberta is making sure to separate alcohol and cannabis. Sales will be in specialty stores. It will also be banned from sale along side tobacco and pharmaceuticals.

Purchases are limited to 30 grams per sale.

Overall

Alberta has created a hybrid of its existing tobacco and alcohol laws. It does seem like the most sensible and cost-effective means of introducing cannabis. The choice to keep the plant in a new retail space, away from alcohol leaves space for new private businesses.

Northwest Territories

https://www.eia.gov.nt.ca/sites/eia/files/2017-10-17_what_we_heard_report_-_final_with_french_executive_summary.pdf

 

Age & consumption

The data released by the province shows support for users to be 19.

Most participants in the survey support some restrictions on smoking cannabis in public, especially around children. The idea of designated outdoor smoking spots for festivals, parks and campgrounds is begin suggested as well as allowing use within dispensaries

Growing & possession

Most respondents opposed lowering the limit below the federal maximum of 30 grams. The same was found for anything lower than the federal limit of four plants.

Retail & distribution

How to distribute and sell cannabis has been the most divisive issue for the Northwest Territories. The public was split in their opinions on selling from licenced private retailers or through the creation of a government run storefront.

There is clear support for online/mail order system.

Overall

The Northwest Territories has not released official plans for cannabis legislation. It did manage to spend three months polling residence in order to take stock of public opinion.

The government is in the process of drafting a legal policy based on the findings, however what exactly this will look like in not completely clear.

The GNWT is still crafting the specifics of their relationship with cannabis. It will be interesting to see how it resolves the indecision surrounding sales.  

Saskatchewan

Age & consumption

The municipal government has yet to make an announcement on what they will set the age limit at for Cannabis usage, but in almost all provinces it has followed the limit for alcohol.

Saskatchewan recently was flirting with the idea of lowering the drinking age from 19 to 18, but the issue has largely been dismissed.

Growing & possession

Like most other provinces, Saskatchewan is following the federal guideline of 30 grams per person and four plants per household.

Retail & distribution

Saskatchewan government is taking a competitive approach that will see cannabis sold through private companies once the drug is federally legalized.

The Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) will issue 60 retail permits across the province. Permits will only go to communities with a population higher than 2,500 people.

Overall

Saskatchewan is another province that has been rolling its plans out slowly. The strongest point of their planning so far has been the emphasis on private retail which shifts the early costs of legalization to businesses.

Nunavut

Age & consumption

Details are few from Nunavut, but the province will be moving forward with a minimum age of 19 for purchasing cannabis.

Growing & possession

No public statements have been made that show any plans for the province to lower the federally recommended amount of 30 grams per individual and four plants per household.

Retail & distribution

Nunavut has not made a decision about using a public, private, or hybrid system of the two, for retail sales. Discussion on how to draft legislation has only just begun in February 2018 and the province has said it will not be ready for any kind of storefront till the end of the year.

Overall

Nunavut has been slow to make any legislative decisions about cannabis. What its legalization will look like is unknown, with the biggest questions focusing around the retail system.

 

Manitoba

Age & consumption

Manitoba is the only province that has chosen to go higher than the already existing drinking age. Residents who want to get high will have to wait until they are 19, while still being able to purchase alcohol at 18.

Growing & possession

Manitoba is one of only two provinces that will not allow any home growing without a medical licence.

The maximum amount for possession is 30 grams.

Retail & distribution

Manitoba has elected to move forward with private sales and will be amending the the Liquor and Gaming Control Act and The Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Control Act, to do so. The renamed, the Manitoba Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority (MLGCA), will be responsible for licensing retailers.

Municipalities will decide if they choose to prohibit cannabis sales within their communities.

The MLGCA will serve as distributor.

Overall

Manitoba has chosen to move forward with a conservative model of cannabis legalization.

The province seems resistant to the change but has left enough space in proposed plans to make changes if needed.

Ontario

Age & possession

Ontario has of course chosen to go with the age of 19, keeping in line with the legal age required for alcohol.

Personal possession limits also follow the 30-gram restriction.

Growing & consumption

The Ontario government has chosen to allow the full federally recommended four plants per household.

Users will be restricted to smoking inside their residences.

Retail & distribution

Ontario will be opening 60 retail outlets of a crown-owned corporation, that will operate under the LCBO.

Overall

Ontario has elected for a heavily restrictive, litigious, and taxed regime of cannabis legalization. The province has been very open about its plans, but has drawn criticism for ignoring the policy recommendations of its Cannabis task force, which among other things, favoured a private system.

Quebec

Age & possession

Quebec will be moving forward with a legal age of 18.

It is prohibited for an adult to possess, in a place other than a public place, more than 150-grams of dried cannabis. This is the highest limit set on personal possession in a public space set by any province and well above the federal limit of 30.

Growing & consumption

Quebec and Manitoba are the only two provinces that will not be allowing growing in private residences without a medical license.

Cannabis smoking and vaping will be permitted in the same places as tobacco. Smoking will also be prohibited on university and CEGEP grounds.

Retail & distribution

Quebec has announced that it will use a public model of distribution. Only the new Société Québécoise du Cannabis (SQC) will be allowed to purchase cannabis from a producer, ensure its transportation and storage, and sell it.

The SQC will open 15 stores where cannabis products can be sold. There will also be a system created for online sales. Customers are not to have access to cannabis inside a store without the assistance of an employee, and the cannabis cannot be visible from the outside.

Finance Minister Carlo Leitão said there could be more stores in the future, but did not indicate how many.

Overall

Quebec is one of a few provinces that has a complete plan for the legalization deadline in July. The choice to not allow home growth and use a public retail system seems unnecessarily restrictive.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Age & possession

Newfoundland and Labrador unveiled its plan in November saying that it would have a minimum age of 19 to buy and use marijuana, in line with its current drinking age.

There has been no release related to possession limits, which likely means the province will allow the federally mandated limit of 30-grams.

Growing & consumption

Residents will be barred from smoking pot on public property, and its consumption will be only be allowed in private residences.

Currently the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador have made home public statement or releases that address the issue of home growing.

Retail & distribution

The Newfoundland and Labrador will be starting with a hybrid system of both public and private retailers. Cannabis will be sold by businesses licenced with the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation (NLC). The NLC will serve as the sole distributor.

Online sales will also be an option.

In some regions, the NLC will serve as a retailer, with the long-term goal being a shift towards a totally private system.

Overall

Some key details are missing from the provinces plan for legalization but the biggest questions of retail sales and age restriction have been answered since November.

 

New Brunswick

https://www.gnb.ca/legis/publications/ReportNBWorkingGroupLegalizationOfCannabis.pdf

Age & consumption

The New Brunswick medical societies recommend a minimum age of for recreational cannabis use. The policy recommendations chose to align with “policing groups” and are following the same age as alcohol and tobacco.

The working group assembled by the province to make recommendations for policy has suggested cannabis consumption be restricted to areas where tobacco and vaping are allowed.

Growing & possession

Recent comments from the government have suggested that it will require those who possess cannabis to keep it in a locked container at home.

This has been met with criticism from the media, public, and the provincial opposition party.

“I don’t know how they’re ever going to police if people have their cannabis locked up in their own homes,” said Opposition MLA Ross Wetmore. “It seems to be like policy on the fly and no real concrete evidence on why they’re going to do anything.”

The working group recommends leaving the personal possession limit at 30 g.

Retail & distribution

New Brunswick’s cannabis working committee has recommended the creation of a Crown corporation-operated retail model.

The corporation would be a subsidiary of the New Brunswick Liquor Corporation. The committee has chosen not to recommend cannabis having its own store fronts, rather that the plant be kept in a separate area of the store from liquor. Storefronts will be strategically placed to avoid schools, parks, and areas frequented by minors.

Overall

New Brunswick has the most sensible and well researched policy sheet in all of Canada. However, there has been no announcements of concrete decisions about what will become law.

 

Nova Scotia

Age & consumption

Nova Scotia will set a legal age of 19 for cannabis use, purchase, and possession. Like most provinces choosing this age, they believe it is an even balance between keeping cannabis out of the hands of youth and restricting illegal sales.

Cannabis use will be restricted to private residences, with the potential for expansion to designated spaces later on.

Growing & possession

The province has announced it will be following the federal recommendations of 30-gram  and a grow limit of four plants per household.

Retail & distribution

All distribution and sales of cannabis will be done through the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation (NSLC) both online and in NSLC stores.

Nine locations will sell Cannabis in 8 cities across Nova Scotia. Those cities are Amherst, Dartmouth, Halifax, Lower Sackville, New Glasgow, Sydney River, Truro and Yarmouth.

Overall

There has been some media criticism of the store locations, since none are to be built in low income areas.

 

Prince Edward Island

https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/information/finance/cannabis

Age & consumption

The legal age for cannabis use will be age 19, aligning it with the province’s legal age for alcohol and tobacco.

Cannabis consumption will be restricted to private residences, a decision that makes trouble for apartment dwellers who like to smoke up.

 

Growing & possession

Adults will be allowed to publicly possess 30 grams of lawful dried cannabis, “or equivalent.”

The province has not given any indication that it will lower the amount of plant allowed in a property lower than the federally recommended four.

 

Retail & distribution

The province has chosen an exclusively public system of retail.

Prince Edward Island will have four dedicated government-owned retail locations for cannabis sales in 2018, as well as an e-commerce platform with direct-to-home delivery.  The retail sites will be in Charlottetown, Summerside, Montague, and West Prince.

The province has announced that it has agreements with three companies to supply legal and regulated cannabis products. These include Canada’s Island Garden of Charlottetown, OrganiGram of Moncton, NB, and Canopy Growth Corporation of Smith Falls, ON.

Overall

PEI seems to have a clearer idea than most provinces of how it will operate its cannabis system. Like most smaller provinces, it is following the federal guideline closely.

 

 

Check back here for updates on how provinces are proceeding with their cannabis legalization policy. This article was last updated on February 2, 2018. 

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