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Provincial government unveils more rules on recreational pot

VICTORIA, B.C. — B.C.’s top cop has unveiled more rules and regulations regarding recreational cannabis use ahead of the plant’s anticipated legalization this summer.

Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth announced new rules regarding the sale of recreational marijuana, the permitted growing of pot plants by residents, and the rules regarding impaired driving. Among the highlights of today’s announcement were that marijuana will not be allowed to be sold together with alcohol and tobacco under one roof.

The B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch will operate a new standalone network of public retail stores, while 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 lotto tickets.

This spring, the Province will launch an early registration process for individuals and businesses who are interested in applying for a cannabis retail licence, though the government will be capping the number of licenses that are made available. Those licenses will also not be permitted without the permission of the pertinent local government body.

Farnworth also announced that adults will be allowed to use non-medical cannabis in public spaces where tobacco smoking and vaping are permitted. However smoking and vaping of recreational pot will be banned in areas frequented by children, including community beaches, parks and playgrounds.

Local governments will be able to set additional restrictions, similar to those currently in place 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.

Adults aged 19 or 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. Cannabis transported in a motor vehicle will need to be in a sealed package, or inaccessible to vehicle occupants.

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. As part of the enforcecement, the government plans to create a new 90-day administrative driving prohibition for drug-affected driving, in addition to extended the zero-tolerance for alcohol impairment in the Graduated Licensing Program to include the presence of THC.

“As a result of months of engagement, additional research and analysis, we continue to build the Province’s regulatory framework and have set policy direction on other key aspects of how non-medical cannabis will be regulated in B.C.,” said Farnworth. “These decisions include safeguards for the retail sales of non-medical cannabis and are driven by our priorities of protecting youth, promoting health and safety, keeping the criminal element out of cannabis and keeping our roads safe.”

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