On April 26, 2018, British Columbia released proposed legislation to provide for legal, controlled access to non-medical cannabis. The B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) concurrently announced that, once legalized, public cannabis stores and online retail sales of non-medical cannabis will operate under the brand “BC Cannabis Stores.”
ROLLING OUT PROVINCIAL LEGISLATION
Bill 30 proposes the enactment of the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act (CCLA), which establishes provincial control in B.C. over the sale, supply and possession of non-medical cannabis and the licensing of private cannabis retailers, including registration and training requirements for those who will work in cannabis retail. The CCLA also sets forth restrictions on the possession, personal cultivation and consumption of cannabis by adults and related prohibitions for minors.
The CCLA includes an extensive compliance and enforcement regime with the aim of ensuring that the framework for the legalization of non-medical cannabis protects children and youth, prioritizes public health and safety, keeps cannabis out of the control of criminals and ensures road safety. A key component of this proposed enforcement regime is a new community safety unit that will target illegal sellers.
Concurrent proposed amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act (MVA) are aimed at addressing drug-affected driving in B.C. and providing police with additional enforcement powers in order to remove drug-affected drivers from the road.
Bill 31 proposes the enactment of the Cannabis Distribution Act (CDA), which establishes B.C.’s exclusive jurisdiction over the wholesale distribution of cannabis and authorizes public retail sales.
The B.C. legislature will now take time to debate and review the CCLA and CDA before their finalization and potential passage into law. Expected provincial implementation timelines will depend primarily upon the timing of the proposed federal cannabis legislation. Prior to legalization, B.C. also intends to focus on the development of the regulations and supporting policies to the CCLA and CDA, and will launch public awareness and education campaigns related to the health impacts of cannabis use and the risks of drug-affected driving.
B.C. BRANDS ITS RETAIL CANNABIS STORES
In conjunction with the announcement of Bills 30 and 31, the LDB announced that public cannabis stores and the online retail for non-medicinal cannabis will operate under the brand “BC Cannabis Stores,” to complement the existing BC Liquor Stores brand. BC Cannabis Stores will be a new and separate business operation to support the wholesale distribution and sale of non-medical cannabis.
The LDB expects to open the first BC Cannabis Store, and to offer online sales to the public, by the end of summer 2018, to ensure that British Columbians have access to non-medical cannabis once legalized.
Retail stores (both government and private) will only be permitted to sell a maximum of 30 grams of dried cannabis (or its equivalent in oil) to an individual at once. BC Cannabis Stores will be B.C.’s sole online cannabis retailer.