New Zealand Law Society - British Columbia releases rules for recreational cannabis use

British Columbia releases rules for recreational cannabis use

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In British Columbia, the rules the Government plans to impose in relation to the sale of recreational cannabis have been released, including that it can be smoked in public.

The Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, Mike Farnworth says National legalization of non-medical cannabis represents an historic shift in public policy.

“This provincial regulatory framework provides a sound foundation to support the provincial goals that prioritize public health and safety. That said, July 2018 is only the beginning of our journey, and these changes will not happen overnight. We fully anticipate all levels of government will need to continue to assess and refine cannabis policy and regulation in the months and years to come,” he says.

British Columbia is a province of Canada. The draft federal Cannabis Act (Bill C-45) can be read here.


The operating rules governing public and private retail stores will be similar to those currently in place for liquor. However, to promote responsible use, licensed retailers will not be able to sell cannabis in the same stores as liquor or tobacco. 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 B.C. government recognizes that retail access for people in rural areas will require a different approach than those used in urban communities and will establish exceptions for rural non-medical cannabis retail stores, similar to those of rural liquor stores. The criteria for determining these rural areas are currently under development.

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, which aligns with the federal government's proposed possession limit for adults.

Those under the legal age of 19 years will be prohibited from possessing any amount of non-medical cannabis. Additionally, cannabis transported in a motor vehicle will need to be in a sealed package, or inaccessible to vehicle occupants.

Places of use

British Columbia. 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. Use of cannabis in any form will also be banned for all occupants in vehicles.

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.

Personal cultivation

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. In addition, landlords and strata councils will be able restrict or prohibit home cultivation.

Drug-impaired driving

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, including:

  • B.C. will create a new 90-day administrative driving prohibition (ADP) for drug-affected driving; and
  • The current zero-tolerance restrictions for the presence of alcohol for drivers in the Graduated Licensing Program (GLP) will be expanded to include zero tolerance for the presence of THC, the active ingredient in cannabis.

In New Zealand, possible changes to cannabis laws are moving much more slowly

The Government Bill – the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill which amends the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 to provide access to medicinal cannabis for terminally ill people has passed a first reading and will now go before a Health Select Committee.

But Green MP Chloe Swarbrick’s private members bill allowing a grow your-own-medicine solution failed to get enough votes to proceed further.