British Columbia is Taking Its Time with Marijuana Legalization Laws

This week’s healthy dose of irony is brought to you by the province of British Columbia.

Although Canada’s West Coast has been the leader in illegal cannabis production and distribution for decades, when it comes to getting its act together in order to prepare for legalization, the province is the last to cross the finish line.

British Columbia Solicitor General Mike Farnworth told CBC News that the legislation for his province will be brought forth Thursday, April 26, 2018. The framework is expected to solidify a previous announcement in February, when officials outlined details of what recreational cannabis will look like for the province.

Some of those policies will include setting the legal age of possession at 19, with adults being able to carry up to 30 grams, or a little more than 1 ounce, at any time. Other nuances of the new provincial laws will have penalties for impaired driving and smoking bans for beaches, parks, and playgrounds.

How much cannabis will cost in British Columbia, and where government-run stores will be located, were not going to be revealed Thursday, April 26, 2018. However, the province is allowing for privately run dispensaries in its framework.

“I’ve been clear, right from the beginning, you’re not going to see a whole piles of stores up and running right away. It will be ramping up. We will be working with local governments, because they’re the ones that have to implement it,” said Farnworth in a statement to the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

British Columbia has taken a more liberal approach to legal cannabis than other provinces.

Ontario will allow only government-run stores and online sales with consumption restricted to private property only. Quebec has taken the same approach to dispensaries and exercised further control by not allowing their citizens to grow up to four plants at home — something most of Canada will be allowed to do.

Alberta and Manitoba have allowed a little leeway, with the former not limiting possession in private residences, a legal age of 18 years and a combination of government-run and privately owned stores.

Manitoba’s age of consumption would be 19 years, but its entire retail framework consists of privately run storefronts and online sales, something polls have shown is preferred by most Canadians.

Jon Hiltz was a journalist for for two years and is now director of content for INDIVA, a licensed cannabis producer in Ontario, Canada.

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