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Cannabis Legalization In Canada

Cannabis Legalization In Canada

Non-medicinal use of Cannabis became legal in Canada on October 17th, 2018.

West Vancouver Police encourage all residents to understand new rules in effect under both the federal Cannabis Act and the British Columbia Cannabis Control and Licensing Act.  The new laws set out a legal framework intended to control the lawful production, distribution, sale and possession of cannabis across Canada.


What is now legal in Canada (Source - Gov't of Canada 2018)

As of October 17th, 2018, in British Columbia, adults 19 years of age or older are able legally to:

  • possess up to 30 grams of legal cannabis, dried or equivalent in non-dried form in public
  • share up to 30 grams of legal cannabis with other adults
  • buy dried or fresh cannabis and cannabis oil from a provincially-licensed retailer
  • in provinces and territories without a regulated retail framework, individuals would be able to purchase cannabis online from federally-licensed producers
  • grow, from licensed seed or seedlings, up to 4 cannabis plants per residence for personal use
  • make cannabis products, such as food and drinks, at home as long as organic solvents are not used to create concentrated products

Cannabis edible products and concentrates will be legal for sale approximately one year after the Cannabis Act has come into force on October 17th, 2018. 


Drug Impaired Driving
Drug impaired driving continues to be illegal everywhere in Canada.

The Province of BC has committed to increase training for law enforcement in this area and revise provincial regulations to provide police more tools to remove drug-impaired drivers from the road and deter drug-affected driving, including.

B.C. has created a new 90-day Administrative Driving Prohibition (ADP) for drug affected driving. Zero tolerance restrictions for the presence of alcohol for drivers in the Graduated Licensing Program (GLP) has been expanded to include zero tolerance for the presence of THC.

Use of cannabis, in any form is now banned for all occupants in vehicles.  West Vancouver Police work throughout the year to get impaired drivers off the road.  Training is ongoing to supplement the 34 WV Police officers currently qualified in Standard Field Sobriety Testing(SFST) and to qualify additional officers as Drug Recognition Experts (DRE). 


Protecting Youth
The Cannabis Act has several measures that help prevent youth from accessing cannabis. These include both age restrictions and restricting promotion of cannabis. 
No person may sell or provide cannabis to any person in British Columbia under the age of 19, or under the age of 18 in other provincial jurisdictions where the legal age for consumption of alcohol is also set at that level.
The Act creates 2 new criminal offences, with maximum penalties of 14 years in jail, for:

  • giving or selling cannabis to youth
  • using a youth to commit a cannabis-related offence

Cannabis For Medical Purposes

The current regime for medical cannabis continues to allow access to cannabis for people who have the authorization of their healthcare provider.


Permitted Places Of Use
Provincial law and local bylaws B.C. 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 is banned in areas frequented by children, including parks and playgrounds. Use of cannabis, in any form is banned for all occupants in vehicles.  

The District of West Vancouver restricts all smoking within its boundaries under Bylaw 4607 - Click Here To Review The District of West Vancouver Smoking Bylaw

In addition, landlords and strata councils are able to restrict or prohibit non-medical cannabis smoking at tenanted and strata properties.


Retail & Wholesale Framework in BC
British Columbians of legal age will be able to purchase non-medical cannabis through government approved privately run retail stores or government-operated retail stores and online sales  where permitted by municipal bylaw. 

The District of West Vancouver currently prohibits all cannabis retail and production facilities within its boundaries. 

The BC Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) will operate the public retail stores, and Liquor and Cannabis Regulations Branch (LCRB) will be responsible for licensing private stores and monitoring the retail sector.


Provincial Penalties

The British Columbia Cannabis Control and Licensing Act provides provincial legislation to adapt to the federal legalization of non-medicinal cannabis use.  The Cannabis Control and Licensing Act sets out several penalties that are subject to enforcement through Provincial Violation Tickets.

The Act 

  • Sets 19 as the provincial minimum age in British Columbia to purchase sell or consume cannabis; and incorporates federally mandated limits on lawful adult possession of cannabis.
  • Prohibits cannabis smoking and vaping everywhere tobacco smoking and vaping are prohibited, as well as at playgrounds, sports fields, skate parks, and other places where children commonly gather;
  • Prohibits the use of cannabis on school properties and in vehicles;
  • Authorizes adults to grow up to four cannabis plants per household, but the plants must not be visible from public spaces off the property, and home cultivation will be banned in homes used as day-cares;
  • Establishes a cannabis retail licensing regime similar to the current licensing regime for liquor;
  • Provides enforcement authority to deal with illegal sales;
  • Creates a number of provincial cannabis offences which may result in a fine ranging from $2,000 to $100,000, imprisonment of three to 12 months, or both; and
  • Where necessary, to comply with Charter Rights and human rights law, exemptions will provide to individuals who are federally authorized to purchase, possess and consume medical cannabis.


Click Here To View Provincial Violation Ticket & Fine Information Under The BC Cannabis Control And Licensing Act


Criminal penalties

Under the Cannabis Act, newly defined offences will target those acting outside of the legal framework, such as organized crime. Penalties will be set in proportion to the seriousness of the offence. Sanctions would range from warnings and tickets for minor offences to criminal prosecution and imprisonment for more serious offences. New offences will also be created specifically targeting people who make cannabis available to youth.