Five Burning Questions About Cannabis Legalization Answered
With October 17, 2018, just around the corner, many Canadians are counting down the days to legalization. It won't be long before we will be able to purchase legal, recreational cannabis for the first time.
But many of us are still asking some important, practical questions about how exactly that will happen.
This blog will attempt to address those burning questions and provide a little bit of clarity about what you can expect in British Columbia — and how you can purchase legal cannabis — on October 17, 2018.
Where will I be able to purchase legal, recreational cannabis?
Don't expect new cannabis stores to pop up overnight... or even within the year.
The licensing process takes an extraordinary amount of time, with multiple levels of government to satisfy prior to obtaining the proper permits required to sell legal cannabis.
While there are more than one hundred private store applications currently being processed by the provincial government, the vast majority of them will remain unprocessed on October 17, 2018. Even after they are, though, local governments will have to vet them prior to allowing stores to be built, stocked or staffed to open.
Given the onerous realities of licensing, it doesn't seem like any legal stores will be ready to open their doors in the Lower Mainland when legalization occurs. Most stores will take at least eighteen months to reach the approval stage before they are given the all-clear to operate.
This means that only one store, which is located in Kamloops, will be ready on day one.
So where does this leave everyone else?
Online government sales will be available on October 17, 2018, so if you want to place your order, you will be free to do so – but don't expect to light up until at least a few days later.
What will I be able to purchase?
Legal, recreational sales will be limited to fresh cannabis, dried cannabis, cannabis oil and cannabis seeds.
Edibles and other infused products, like soaps and balms for example, will not be made legally available at this time.
However, the federal government has promised to tackle this issue right away. It says that edibles and infused products should be available within the next year.
In the meantime, though, the government won't be stopping Canadians from making their own bath bombs or pot brownies at home. You will be allowed to make your own, if you want.
But while edibles, concentrates and infused products can be possessed and consumed, they cannot be bought and sold, so don't start rolling out that CBD cookie business just yet.
How much cannabis can I have?
Adults can possess up to 30 grams of dried legal cannabis or its equivalent in public places.
Because possession limits in the Cannabis Act are based on dried cannabis, equivalents were developed for other cannabis products in order to identify what their possession limit would be. Under this scheme, one gram of dried cannabis is equal to:
5 grams of fresh cannabis
15 grams of edible product
70 grams of liquid concentrate
0.25 grams of concentrates (solid or liquid)
1 cannabis seed
Keep in mind that there will be a new Criminal Code offence for possessing cannabis over the legal limit. If you only have a small amount over the limit, you could end up with a ticket, but larger amounts could result in much harsher penalties including jail time — so watch out.
Who can I smoke my cannabis with?
The social sharing of cannabis will be permitted under our new laws.
Adults can share up to 30 grams, or equivalent, of your legal cannabis and legal cannabis products with other adults.
However, the penalties for sharing cannabis with minors will be harsh. So, when in doubt, make sure to check I.D.'s before passing around that joint in order to satisfy yourself that everyone is above legal age.
Where will I be able to smoke my legal cannabis?
Our provincial and municipal governments get to make the final call about where you will be allowed to legally consume cannabis.
At this point, restrictions around cannabis consumption in British Columbia appear to be in line with restrictions around smoking tobacco – and while it may not be easy to figure out where you can consume cannabis, it will be easy to know where you can't.
It will be illegal to smoke or vape cannabis in the following places:
Inside motor vehicles or on boats, whether you are driving or you are a passenger;
On or near playgrounds, sport fields, skate parks, schools or any other places where children may reasonably expected to be present;
At a workplace;
In the common area of an apartment building, condominium or dormitory;
At a bus stop, train station or stop, taxi stand, ferry dock or stop;
On or in any health board property, except in a designated area which permits the use of tobacco or e-cigarettes;
Inside a rental suite pursuant to the terms of the lease agreement between the landlord and the tenant.
And if you think that seems harsh, you should also be aware that the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act creates vicarious liability offences. This means that if a person smokes or vapes cannabis in an enclosed public space, like a workplace for example, the owner, manager and lessee of the space are deemed to have contravened the Act and could be held liable for such action.
So whatever you decide to do on October 17, 2018, just make sure that you use cannabis responsibly and that you follow the rules!