BC to set age for cannabis at 19, expects to allow public and private retail

The BC Government revealed some of their plans for the legalization of cannabis today. The province will set the legal age of possession, purchase and consumption at 19, and will manage the distribution of cannabis through the BC Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB).

The province also says it ‘anticipates’ creating a retail model that will include both public and private ‘opportunities,’ which it plans to share in early 2018. This would be similar to how BC manages liquor through both public and private stores supplied by a provincial distributor.

The province says they considered input from 48,951 British Columbians, and submissions from 141 local and Indigenous governments and other stakeholders.

“Looking at the responses received, it’s clear that British Columbians support the priorities of protecting young people, health and safety, keeping the criminal element out of cannabis and keeping roads safe, which will guide the province in developing BC’s regulatory framework for non-medical cannabis,” said Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth.

The province announced in September that they are open to working with municipalities to find a retail system that suits different regions and populations.

“I’ve made it clear, there’s different opinions in different parts of the province. Vancouver has taken one approach, Victoria has taken another approach, but what works in Vancouver may not work in Port Coquitlam or may not work in Prince George or Campbell River or Fort Nelson or Cranbrook. We are open to putting in place a regime that works for the different parts of this province.”

Related: Canadian Provincial/Territorial Legalization Roundup

In a press conference today, Farnworth had few details beyond what was in the press release. He did note the province is still looking at the issue of home grow of up to four plants. The inclusion of home grows has been supported by the Union of BC Municipalities. Details on retail, both brick and mortar and online, within the province, as well as exactly how the LDB will distribute cannabis are expected by late January or early February, 2018. 

More from the press release below:

From Sept. 25 to Nov. 1, 2017, the public and stakeholders were asked to share their input and expertise on a range of issues related to the regulation of non-medical cannabis in BC, including minimum age, personal possession, public consumption, drug-impaired driving, personal cultivation, wholesale distribution and retail models.

Furthermore, the policy decisions announced today reflect the feedback received from the local government members of the Joint Provincial-Local Government Committee on Cannabis Regulation (JCCR) and are endorsed by the Union of BC Municipalities executive.

“We thank all British Columbians who provided their input during the important public and stakeholder engagement process,” said Farnworth. “We will continue to consider your opinions as we further develop policy and legislation that is in the best interests of this province, ensuring a made-in-BC approach to the legalization of non-medical cannabis that will keep our roads and communities safe, protect young people, and promote public health and safety.”

BC still has a number of key decisions to make as it prepares for the legalization of cannabis. These decisions will be informed by the feedback collected through the public and stakeholder engagement, and on-going consultation with local and Indigenous governments and other key stakeholders.

Learn More:

To read the Cannabis Regulation in BC: What We Heard report on public and stakeholder engagement, or to learn more about the engagement process, visit:  http://engage.gov.bc.ca/BCcannabisregulation/.

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