UPDATED: B.C. releases first decisions on cannabis regulation after public engagement

Minimum age to purchase legalized pot in B.C. will be 19 says government

After considering input from 48,951 British Columbians, and submissions from 141 local and Indigenous governments and a range of other interested stakeholders, the Province has announced a number of key decisions related to the anticipated legalization of non-medical cannabis in July 2018.

“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 B.C.’s regulatory framework for non-medical cannabis,” said Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth.

The following policy decisions were shaped by the feedback provided by those who participated in the engagement:

Minimum age
British Columbia will set the minimum age to possess, purchase and consume cannabis at 19 years old. A minimum age of 19 is consistent with B.C.’s minimum age for alcohol and tobacco and with the age of majority in B.C.

Wholesale distribution of cannabis

Like other provinces, B.C. will have a government-run wholesale distribution model. The BC Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) will be the wholesale distributor of non-medical cannabis in B.C.

Retail of cannabis
The Province anticipates establishing a retail model that includes both public and private retail opportunities and will share details regarding the model in early 2018.

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 B.C., 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 B.C. 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-B.C. 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.”

B.C. 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 B.C.: What We Heard report on public and stakeholder engagement, or to learn more about the engagement process, visit: http://engage.gov.bc.ca/BCcannabisregulation/

BC’s Liquor Distribution Branch the right choice to manage cannabis

The British Columbia Government’s announcement today that the BC Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) will be tasked with warehousing and distributing non-medical cannabis is the right choice for British Columbia, according to British Columbia’s Alliance of Beverage Licensees (ABLE BC).

“We are excited and encouraged by the BC government’s decision to warehouse and distribute cannabis through the LDB,” says Jeff Guignard, Executive Director of ABLE BC. “It’s a clear sign that British Columbia is heading in the right direction on cannabis regulation.”

ABLE BC is also encouraged by the government’s announcement that it will establish a mixed public-private model for retailing adult-use non-medical cannabis. Since 2015, ABLE BC—in partnership with the BCGEU—has advocated for a distribution and retail system that includes public and private liquor stores as primary retails outlets.

“We believe our decades of experience retailing a controlled substance safely, our proven track record of enforcing age-controlled environments, and our demonstrated history of complying with a rigorous enforcement and inspection regime make us uniquely suited to retail adult-use recreational cannabis in BC,” said Guignard. “We further believe that BC’s existing liquor control and distribution systems are the most efficient and cost-effective way for BC to meet the federal government’s July 2018 deadline.”

ABLE BC is the united voice of BC’s private liquor industry, representing private liquor stores, neighbourhood pubs, nightclubs, and hotel liquor licensees. Their 1,000 members operate in every region of the province, directly employ nearly 100,000 British Columbians, and contribute over a billion dollars to BC’s economy every year.