On December 5, 2017, the British Columbia government unveiled details on how recreational cannabis will be purchased, distributed and sold in the province, once legalized, which is expected to happen in July 2018. The B.C. government’s decisions follow the province’s consultation with nearly 50,000 British Columbians, 141 local and Indigenous governments and a range of other stakeholders.

POLICY DECISIONS

The following three policy decisions reflect public input derived from the engagement process undertaken by the B.C. government (described below under the heading Engagement Process) and feedback received from the local government members of the Joint Provincial-Local Government Committee on Cannabis Regulation, and are endorsed by the Union of British Columbia Municipalities.

  • Minimum Age: B.C. will set the minimum age to possess, purchase and consume cannabis at 19 years old, which is consistent with B.C.’s minimum age for alcohol and tobacco and with the age of majority in the province.
  • Wholesale Distribution: Similar to Alberta, Quebec and Ontario, B.C. will have a government-run, wholesale distribution model. The B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch will be the wholesale distributor of recreational cannabis in B.C. (For further information on the distribution models proposed in Alberta, Quebec and Ontario, please see our previous Blakes Bulletins: Alberta Introduces New Legislation to Regulate Recreational Cannabis, Quebec Introduces New Legislation to Regulate Recreational Cannabis and Ontario Introduces New Legislation to Regulate Recreational Cannabis).
  • Retail Sales of Cannabis: The province anticipates establishing a retail model that includes both public and private retail opportunities. The B.C. government aims to release details regarding this model in early 2018.

ENGAGEMENT PROCESS

From September 25 to November 1, 2017, the B.C. public and stakeholders were asked to share their input and expertise on a range of issues related to the regulation of recreational cannabis in the province. Input was specifically solicited on topics such as the minimum age for the possession, purchase and consumption of cannabis, drug-impaired driving, personal cultivation, wholesale distribution and retail models for the sale of cannabis. Feedback was solicited through online forms, telephone surveys and written submissions.

The results of the engagement process were published in a report titled “Cannabis Regulation in B.C.: What We Heard, Public and Stakeholder Engagement, September 25 – November 1, 2017”.

NEXT STEPS

A number of important decisions outside of the three policy decisions released by the B.C. government remain to be made by the government as it prepares for the legalization of recreational cannabis. The government has stated that these decisions will continue to be informed by the feedback collected through public and stakeholder engagement and ongoing consultation with local and Indigenous governments and other key stakeholders.