When Justin Trudeau announced that as of July 1, 2018, marijuana will become legal at the federal level, it was not only him fulfilling a campaign promise, rather, it was the first, in what we hope to be many, steps taken as a nation to solidify our place in an ever-growing progressive world. However, not all the praise (or discontent) should be directed at him, for while he was the catalyst behind it, the federal government has left it up to the provinces and territories to license and oversee the distribution and sale of cannabis. Needless to say, if they treat cannabis anything like alcohol – which many of the provinces seem to be – there is going to be differences in not only its sale and distribution but also public opinion.
With the deadline to legalization fast approaching, lets see what we know about the legalization rollout across the nation:
Announced in the beginning of December, the British Columbia pot plan will involve the provincial Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) handling wholesale distribution with a minimum age to purchase of 19. Sales will occur in both public and private stores.
A bill was introduced in the province that would make the government responsible for any and all online retail marijuana sales, but fortunately, the private sector hasn’t been forgotten in their roll out. Brick and mortar retail locations can be operated by private companies, however, the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission will be responsible for all licensing. Minimum age of purchase is set at 18.
As of yet, Brad Wall, the provinces Premier, hasn’t announced any plans yet, sighting they are still reviewing options and gathering feedback. This has many in the province up in arms, especially the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA), who claim they are unable to prepare until decisions have been made.
Manitoba is introducing what they call a “hybrid model,” which involves the provincial Liquor and Gaming Authority (LGA) regulating the purchase, storage, distribution and retail, while the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation (MBLL) will track and secure the supply sold throughout the province. Much like Alberta, the private sector will be responsible for selling cannabis. Minimum age is set at 19, one year older than the provincial drinking age.
The province has decided to stick with their liquor control model for cannabis, with stand-alone stores being planned to across the province, all being run by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO). With an initial rollout of 80 stores, those who live in more remote areas of the province will still be able to purchase through online shopping. Much like the legal drinking age, the minimum age to purchase and possess is set at 19. The province has also prohibited consumption in public spaces.
Much like alcohol, the minimum age is being set at 18 in the province of Quebec, however, it isn’t without its stipulations. The legislation would prohibit people from growing cannabis for personal use and smoking would be limited to places where people can currently smoke cigarettes. Under the propose planned, the Société Québécoise du Cannabis (SQC) will purchase, transport, and store cannabis that will be sold in 15 stores and online across the province.
According to the provinces proposed plan, there will be no smoking of cannabis in public places, as well as a limit on how many grams a person can have on their person. Interestingly, at home, a person could have as much cannabis as they like, as long as it is in a locked room or locked container. The province also plans on up to 20 government-run stores with a minimum purchase age of 19, as well as online sales.
Newfoundland & Labrador
The provinces pot plan keeps the minimum age at 19, in line with their drinking age, and has decided that pot can be sold in private stores, with distribution and licensing being handled by the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation (NLC). In some areas, the NLC may actually be a retailer, in conjunction with online sales. Much like many provinces, they have decided to prohibit consumption on public property.
Nothing yet out of the province, however, the government hopes to unveil its pot plan by the end of 2017.
Much like Nova Scotia, P.E.I. has nothing set in stone yet, however, with a public and stakeholder survey currently released, the province is expecting to draft legislation in the spring.
The territory has set the minimum age to purchase marijuana at 19, with the government’s territorial website stating that they will also “own and operate at least one retail store and provide an e-commerce option.”
As of yet, the territory has no definite plans, however, public feedback is suggesting that the minimum age will be set at 19 years.
Nothing has been revealed as yet from the territory, nor have they released the results of their online survey in regards to legalization.