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NDP government introduces legislation on cannabis regulations, BC Cannabis Stores to become a thing

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VICTORIA, B.C. — B.C.’s top cop says the provincial government has introduced legislation to govern access to non-medical cannabis in the province once the federal government passes legislation to legalize the substance, while the BC Liquor Distribution Branch announced the launch of BC Cannabis Stores.

Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth announced the two pieces of legislation at a press conference this morning. The proposed Cannabis Distribution Act will establish the Province’s exclusive jurisdiction over wholesale distribution of cannabis, and provide authority for public retail sales. The proposed Cannabis Control and Licensing Act establishes provincial control over the sale, supply and possession of non-medical cannabis, and establishes licensing of private cannabis retailers, including registration and training requirements for those who will work in cannabis retail. The act outlines restrictions on the possession, personal cultivation and consumption of cannabis by adults and prohibitions for minors.

The new BC Cannabis Stores logo. Photo by Government of B.C./Flickr

The B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch also announced today that public cannabis stores and the online retail store for non-medical cannabis will operate under the BC Cannabis Stores brand.

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The name and brand align with the BC Liquor Stores brand, and will be featured on store signage and printed materials. Developed in-house, the brand will be used as the LDB creates a new and separate business operation to support the wholesale distribution and sale of non-medical cannabis.

The LDB expects to open the first government-operated retail store, and to offer online sales to the public, by the end of summer 2018, ensuring that British Columbians have access to non-medical cannabis, once legalized.

Retail stores will only be permitted to sell a maximum of 30 grams of dried cannabis – or its equivalent in oil – to an individual at any time. BC Cannabis Stores will be the province’s sole online cannabis retailer.

“The legislation introduced today provides a sound foundation for the regulation and safe implementation of legalized cannabis in British Columbia,” said Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth. “This marks a major milestone, and puts our province in position to not only be ready for federal cannabis legalization in late summer, but does so in a way that reflects the Province’s goals for legalized cannabis that prioritize public health and safety, particularly for our children and youth.”

Farnworth said the act also includes an extensive compliance and enforcement regime to ensure legalization of non-medical cannabis protects children and youth, prioritizes public health and safety, keeps cannabis out of the hands of criminals and keeps roads safe. A key component of this enforcement regime will be a new community safety unit that will target illegal sellers.

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The Province engaged local governments, and Indigenous governments and organizations as part of the development of the CDA and CCLA. Engagement with these governments and organizations is ongoing.

In addition, amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act (MVA) will address drug-affected driving in British Columbia. A first phase of proposed amendments to the MVA will provide police with additional tools to remove drug-affected drivers from the road.

“As I’ve said before, the date set by the federal government for cannabis legalization will just be the beginning. B.C. will monitor implementation and make any necessary adjustments to provincial regulations to ensure our provincial goals are being met,” said Farnworth.

The legislature will now take time to debate and review the proposed pieces of legislation, before they are finalized and passed into law. Provincial implementation timelines are dependent upon the proposed federal legislation receiving royal assent.

In anticipation of federal legalization, the Province will focus on the development of the regulations and supporting policies to prepare for the legalization of non-medical cannabis in British Columbia. Prior to legalization, Government will also launch public awareness and education campaigns related to the health impacts of cannabis use and the risks of drug-affected driving.

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Additionally, the Liquor Distribution Branch, B.C.’s wholesale distributor of non-medical cannabis, is expected to open the first government-operated retail store by late summer, and is working to implement an e-commerce solution to offer online sales to the public. The brand identity and logo for BC Cannabis Stores, developed in-house, will be featured on store fronts and within print material. For further details, visit: http://www.bcldbcannabisupdates.com.

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