Key Facts about the Cannabis Act
The Cannabis Act known as Bill C45 is the law which legalized recreational cannabis use for ages 19+ across Canada. This law came into effect as of October 17, 2018.
There are many questions about the Act and although there has been a lot of documentation published about the new laws these resources can be difficult to decipher or interpret. This blog was written to provide some key facts about the act and what is actually legal and what is NOT.
The bill was passed in order provide legal access to cannabis and to control and regulate its production, distribution and sale.
The objectives of the Act are:
- to prevent young persons from accessing cannabis
- to protect public health and public safety by establishing strict product safety and product quality requirements
- to deter criminal activity by imposing serious criminal penalties for those operating outside the legal framework
- the Act is also intended to reduce the burden on the criminal justice system in relation to cannabis.
Because of the uncertainty about the laws and when the legalization of marijuana was going to happen, the police have not been laying charges for minor pot possession for years. The irony is that now that there is a law in place with clear guidelines, the public may see more charges and bylaw infractions. There is more certainty for law enforcement as to what charges will be upheld in the courts some of which are listed below.
What is legal? The Cannabis Act states the following:
- You must be 19 years or older to buy, use, possess, or grow non-medical cannabis in B.C.
- Adults 19+ + can carry up to 30 grams of dried non-medical cannabis in a public place.
- Adults 19+ are allowed to 4 plants in your house for personal use
- Home cultivation banned in homes used in daycare’s
- Sale of edibles is not allowed but personal baking is allowed from the 4 plants in possession
- Adults cannot possess any more than 1,000 grams of dried non-medical cannabis, or its equivalent, in a non-public place, such as at your home. This limit is per household and is based on the expected yield from four cannabis plants.
- Adults 19+ can generally smoke or vape cannabis in public spaces where tobacco smoking and vaping are allowed and strictly prohibited on school properties and playgrounds
- It is illegal to drive a motor vehicle under the influence of marijuana. It is illegal for the passengers to be smoking marijuana in a moving vehicle as well.
- Cannabis can be transported in a vehicle as long as it’s in its original, unopened packaging, or is inaccessible to the driver and occupants (for example, in the trunk). In addition, a maximum of four non-medical cannabis plants can be transported in a vehicle, but they cannot be budding or flowering.
- Non-medical cannabis will be sold exclusively at government-run stores, licensed private retailers, and the B.C. government’s online store.
- All legal non-medical cannabis has an excise stamp attached to its packaging. Federally-licensed producers and processors apply the appropriate excise tax stamp for British Columbia. If the product does not have a British Columbia stamp it is not legal for sale in B.C. Each province and territory has a different coloured cannabis excise stamp for products sold in their jurisdiction.
- There are strict federal rules around promotion of cannabis.
Some key point to keep in mind about the new Cannabis Act:
- Possessing 40 grams instead of 30 grams could be a bylaw infraction as opposed to a criminal charge
- Provinces can restrict the sale or use of cannabis. Municipalities will create bylaws based on the act and set their own fines.
- Driving while impaired is a criminal charge
- Selling or providing cannabis to a person under the age of 19 could result in a criminal charge
- Having cannabis open and within reach of the driver or passenger under 30 grams in a car could be grounds for sobriety test. The passenger smoking cannabis openly in a moving vehicle could result in the same
- It is Illegal for minors to be in possession of and/or smoking marijuana at all. This could result in a bylaw infraction or criminal charge
The laws do mimic the laws set for alcohol consumption and possession. To read more about Bill C45, see the resources that were used for this blog linked below .
If you find yourself facing a criminal charge with regards to cannabis or other drug charges, please contact my office for a free consultation.