BC Cannabis Regulations: What You Need to Know

Published on February 5, 2018 · Last updated July 28, 2020
"View of downtown Victoria in the evening, Canada."

The BC government has put an end to speculation that recreational cannabis will be sold alongside booze at government-run liquor stores.

Recreational cannabis will be sold in standalone retail stores, some privately owned, others run by the government.

In newly unveiled rules related to the legalization of recreational cannabis, British Columbia stipulates that individuals aged 19 and up will be allowed to buy recreational cannabis in standalone retail stores, some of which will be privately owned and operated, others of which will be run by the government.

The Liquor Control and Licensing Branch, the government body that issues liquor licenses and enforces BC’s Liquor Control and Licensing Act, will be responsible for granting licenses to private cannabis retailers and for monitoring the retail sector.

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Residents of legal age will also be able to buy cannabis directly from the government through a website.

The province will launch an early registration process for individuals and businesses seeking retail licenses. Such licenses will be granted only with the approval of local governments.

Having operated an illegal dispensary in the past won’t make an individual ineligible to become a licensed retailer.

Of particular interest to supporters of BC’s many dispensaries, the province says that having operated an illegal dispensary in the past won’t make an individual ineligible to become a licensed retailer.

Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth says the new regulations were developed with aim of “protecting youth, promoting health and safety, keeping the criminal element out of cannabis and keeping [the province’s] roads safe.”

Kirk Tousaw, a Vancouver-based lawyer who specializes in the cannabis space, gave a lukewarm response on Twitter. “Overall my sense is that we will have a pretty decent system but some additional work needs to be done to support local craft producers and consumption locations.”

Aside from retail, what do the government’s new regulations cover? Here are some basic Qs with some knowledgeable As.

How much cannabis will I be able to have on me in public?

Those 19 and older will be allowed to possess up to 30 grams of recreational cannabis in public. Adults may have cannabis in their vehicles, but only if the cannabis in a sealed package or somewhere inaccessible to you and other occupants of the vehicle.

Where in public will I be able to enjoy recreational cannabis?

Consumption of recreational cannabis will be banned in beaches, parks, playgrounds and other places where children gather. It will also be banned in vehicles. Local governments will be able to set additional restrictions just as they can for tobacco use. Also, landlords and strata councils will be able to restrict or prohibit recreational cannabis use on their properties. The province won’t license consumption lounges right away. And, according to Tousaw, it is still unclear whether local government can authorize a consumption lounge that does not sell cannabis on-site.

How much will I be able grow at home?

Cannabis can’t be grown in homes used as daycares.

Adults will be allowed to grow as many as four cannabis plants per household as long as they are not visible from public spaces. Home-grows also must be approved by landlords or, in some cases, strata councils. Cannabis can’t be grown in homes used as daycares.

What will the rules around drug-impaired driving look like?

Drug-impaired driving will continue to be illegal and the province is going to increase training for police in this area. It will also toughen regulations to prevent drug-impaired driving and remove impaired drivers from the road. The province is creating a 90-day administrative driving prohibition. Zero-tolerance restrictions that apply to alcohol in drivers in the Graduated Licensing Program, a system that eases new drivers onto roadways in two stages, will also apply to THC.

Read the full BC Cannabis Private Retail Licensing Guide here.

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Randi Druzin
Randi Druzin
Randi Druzin is an author and journalist in Toronto. She has worked at several major media outlets, including the National Post and the CBC, and has written for dozens of publications, such as The New York Times, Time magazine, ESPN The Magazine, and The Globe and Mail.
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