The annual festivities surrounding 4/20 served as a reminder of both the developments in relation to the legalization of marijuana and the many issues which remain to be addressed.

Legalization

Adults (over 18) in BC are able to:

  • possess up to 30 grams of legal cannabis, dried or equivalent in non-dried form in public
  • share up to 30 grams with other adults
  • purchase cannabis products from a provincial or territorial retailer
  • grow up to 4 plants per residence (not per person) for personal use from licensed seeds or seedlings

Possession, production and distribution, and sale outside of what the law allows remain illegal and subject to criminal penalties, ranging from ticketing up to a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment.

In BC you are prohibited from using marijuana in a vehicle whether you are a driver or passenger. There are also a number of public places where the use of marijuana is prohibited such as parks, playgrounds, and near doorways of buildings.

Issues remain

Despite legalization there are a number of issues which remain. Here’s a quick rundown of just a few.

Marijuana sold by government licensed outlets is a higher price than that which is available illegally. This has left a demand for so-called black market products.

Dispensaries must go through a licensing process. As with the implementation of any new process, work remains to be done on maximizing efficiency.

Those with prior convictions for marijuana possession will be able to receive record suspensions for those convictions. Bill C-93 amends the Criminal Records Act to waive the filing fee and wait times normally applicable to record suspension applications. Other political parties have suggested that expungements rather than record suspensions would be more appropriate.

Finally, prior to legalization there were concerns about an increase in marijuana impaired driving cases. These fears appear to have been unfounded. In relation to enforcement, much work remains to be done in developing a device which is sufficiently reliable to test for THC levels.

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