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Province lays out cannabis policy direction

The Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General has released the province’s policy direction when it comes to the legalization of non-medical cannabis.

Mike Farnworth says British Columbians of legal age will be able to purchase non-medical cannabis through privately run retail stores or government-operated retail stores and government online sales.

B.C.’s Liquor Distribution Branch will operate a new standalone network of public retail stores and the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch will be responsible for licensing private stores and monitoring the retail sector.

In urban areas, licensed retailers will only be allowed to sell cannabis and cannabis accessories, and will be prohibited from selling other products, such as food, gas, clothing and lottery.

The criteria for determining rural sales is still under development.

This spring, the Province will launch an early registration process for individuals and businesses who are interested in applying for a cannabis retail licence.

Licences will not be issued without the support of local governments, which will have the authority to make local decisions, based on the needs of their communities.

As for personal public possession limits, adults aged 19 years and older will be allowed to possess up to 30 grams of non-medical cannabis in a public place.

Those under the legal age of 19 years will be prohibited from possessing any amount of non-medical cannabis.

Cannabis transported in a motor vehicle will need to be in a sealed package, or inaccessible to vehicle occupants.

B.C. will generally allow adults to use non-medical cannabis in public spaces where tobacco smoking and vaping are permitted.

However, to minimize child and youth exposure, smoking and vaping of non-medical cannabis will be banned in areas frequented by children, including community beaches, parks and playgrounds.

Local governments will be able to set additional restrictions, as they do now for tobacco use.

In addition, landlords and strata councils will be able to restrict or prohibit non-medical cannabis smoking and vaping at tenanted and strata properties.

B.C. will align with the proposed federal legislation and allow adults to grow up to four cannabis plants per household, but the plants must not be visible from public spaces off the property.

Home cultivation of non-medical cannabis will be banned in dwellings used as day cares and landlords and strata councils will be able restrict or prohibit home cultivation.

On the driving front, drug-impaired driving will continue to be illegal and B.C. will increase training for law enforcement in this area.

B.C. will also toughen provincial regulations to give police more tools to remove drug-impaired drivers from the road and deter drug-affected driving.

The province plans to introduce legislation in the spring legislative session to affect policy decisions.

It will also launch a public education campaign to ensure broad public awareness of the provincial rules before they come into force.

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