Guides & Advice - Jun 18, 2018

A Province by Province Guide to Recreational Cannabis

As the federal government moves even closer to legalizing recreational cannabis in Canada, it’s up to the individual provinces to oversee the licensing, distribution and sales of marijuana products.

The federal legislation for legalization had been slated for July 2018, but recent delays may add another month or so onto that deadline. Either way, Canada’s various regions must have a framework in place by the time recreational cannabis legalization happens.

There are different circumstances and challenges throughout the country, meaning each province will put different regulations in place. Some will proceed with provincially-run cannabis retailers, while others will allow private retailers to distribute legal cannabis.

To get a better understanding of what this means at the provincial level, let’s take a look at how each province is expected to welcome cannabis legalization.

British Columbia

The BC Liquor Distribution Branch will have the responsibility of operating online sales of cannabis while being the only wholesale distributor supplying legal pot to public BC Cannabis Stores and also private retailers.

Legal age of consumption:  19+

Points of purchase:  Government operated online retail and privately-operated retail locations.

Can residents grow their own:  Yes – 4 plants maximum, out of public-sight and subject to landlord restrictions.

Smoking areas:  Smoking of cannabis will be prohibited in motor vehicles, in areas frequented by young children and wherever tobacco use is also restricted.

Other:  Landlords retain the right to restrict smoking and cultivation on their properties.

Alberta

Alberta introduced a bill making government responsible for the online retail of cannabis, while storefront retail locations can be operated by private companies.

These private companies would be under the oversight of the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission.  The AGLC will be the only online retailer permitted in the province and cannabis sales must be separate from alcohol, tobacco, and pharmaceuticals.

Legal age of consumption:  18+

Points of purchase:  Government operated online retail and privately operated retail locations.

Can residents grow their own:  Yes – 4 plant maximum, subject to landlord restrictions.

Smoking areas:  Smoking of cannabis will be prohibited in motor vehicles, in areas frequented by young children and wherever tobacco use is also restricted.

Other:  There will be no possession limits within private residences.

Saskatchewan

Cannabis sales in Saskatchewan will be government regulated private retailers. To date, the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority plans to issue 52 retail permits to carefully chosen private operators across 32 municipalities and First Nations communities.

Only municipalities with populations of over 2,500 residents are eligible to receive initial permits and other larger communities may be allocated additional permits in the future. The minimum age for cannabis consumption will mimic that of alcohol at 19 years of age and there will be a sales limit of 30 grams of cannabis per customer.

Legal age of consumption: 19+

Points of purchase:  Privately-operated retail locations regulated by the government and online sales.

Can residents grow their own:  Yes – 4 plants maximum, landlord restrictions may apply.

Smoking areas:  Smoking of cannabis will be prohibited everywhere except in private residences and restricted for use around minors.

Other:  The number of retail licenses issued will be restricted for the initial 3 years.

Manitoba

The province maintains it will pursue a “hybrid model” for cannabis retail. The Liquor and Gaming Authority will step in to regulate storage, distribution, and sales of cannabis, while the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation will track and secure the province’s supply.

Retail sales will be left within the private sector, with online sales allowed only through retailers that also have brick and mortar storefronts. The minimum age for cannabis purchase will be set at 19, and growing at home will be restricted without a medical license.

Legal age of consumption:  19+

Points of purchase:  Private retail, with online sales restricted to retailers that also have storefront locations.

Can residents grow their own:  Restricted without a medical license.

Smoking areas: TBD.

Other:  Individual municipalities may hold a referendum to ban cannabis retailers in the community.

Ontario

The government of Ontario has plans to open stand-alone cannabis retailers run by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO). These retail locations will sell cannabis from behind-the-counter, similarly to how cigarettes are currently being sold.

Initially, there will be 80 retail locations with online shopping options to cover any retail gaps. Cannabis purchases will be restricted to those over 19 years of age, and cannabis use will be banned in public spaces.

Legal age of consumption:  19+

Points of purchase:  Government operated online retail and storefront locations.

Can residents grow their own:  Up to four plants.

Smoking areas:  Smoking of cannabis will be restricted to private property, subject to landlord restrictions.

Other:  40 cannabis retail locations will be opened initially, then 80 by 2019 and 150 by 2020. Online sales will make up the difference.

Quebec

As stated in the proposed legislation for Quebec, the Société Québécoise du Cannabis (SQC) will be responsible for purchasing cannabis from licensed producers, as well as transportation and storage. The province will have 15 retail locations and online sales.

The legal age will be 18 and growing cannabis for personal use will be banned. Smoking of cannabis will be treated the same as cigarettes.

Legal age of consumption:  18+

Points of purchase:  Government operated online retail and storefront locations.

Can residents grow their own:  Not permitted.

Smoking areas:  Smoking of cannabis will be restricted to where cigarettes are allowed to be smoked.

New Brunswick

The province will initially be limiting its cannabis more than others with 20 government operated retail locations opened alongside online sales.  

Products will be visible in display cases and store access will only be granted to those over 19 years of age. Cannabis smoking will be banned in public places and the amount a person can carry in public will be limited.  

It will be required to lock-up any cannabis stored at home.

Legal age of consumption:  19+

Points of purchase:  Government operated online retail and storefront locations.

Can residents grow their own:  Up to four plants.

Smoking areas:  Smoking of cannabis will be restricted to private property, subject to landlord restrictions.

Newfoundland & Labrador

Cannabis will be sold in approved private retail stores with distribution handled through the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation. The NLLC may also become a retailer in some locations.

Smoking will be banned on public property and the minimum purchase or consumption age will be set at 19.

Legal age of consumption:  19+

Points of purchase:  Licensed private retailers and government-operated online sales.

Can residents grow their own:  TBD

Smoking areas:  Smoking of cannabis will be restricted to private property.

Nova Scotia

Cannabis sales will be handled by select Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation outlets and online sales. The legal cannabis consumption age will be 19 and a 30-gram possession limit will be put in place.

Household cultivation will also be capped at four plants.

Legal age of consumption:  19+

Points of purchase:  Government operated online retail and storefront locations.

Can residents grow their own:  Up to four plants.

Smoking areas:  Smoking of cannabis will be restricted to where smoking cigarettes is permitted. Landlord restrictions apply.

Other:  There are currently 9 cannabis retail locations confirmed – Amherst, Dartmouth, Halifax, Lower Sackville, New Glasgow, Sydney River, Truro and Yarmouth.

P.E.I.

Cannabis sales will be run through standalone government-run storefronts and an online retail component. Cannabis purchases will be restricted to those over 19 years of age and consumption restricted to private residences.

Legal age of consumption:  19+

Points of purchase:  Government operated online retail and storefront locations.

Can residents grow their own:  Up to four plants, not accessible to minors.

Smoking areas:  Smoking of cannabis will be restricted to private property, with exceptions for selected public spaces.

Other:  There are 4 government-owned retail locations planned for 2018 in Charlottetown, Summerside, Montague and West Prince.

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