While the federal government prepares to legalize cannabis in Canada, the province has introduced legislation for how it plans to manage access and use of marijuana.

The NDP government proposed two acts on Thursday that will serve as guidelines for the distribution, sale and possession of non-medicinal cannabis.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said the Cannabis Distribution Act and Cannabis Control and Licensing Act will provide a "sound foundation" for regulation and safe use of legal weed and cannabis products.

"This marks a major milestone, and puts our province in position to not only be ready for federal cannabis legalization in late summer, but does so in a way that reflects the Province’s goals for legalized cannabis that prioritize public health and safety, particularly for our children and youth," he said in a statement.

If approved, the CDA will give the province jurisdiction over wholesale distribution and public retail sales.

The CCLA will focus on prohibitions for minors and restrictions on possession and consumption, as well as establish how much cannabis individuals can grow at home. It also gives the province control over sale and supply, and sets up a licensing process for private retailers which will include registration and training requirements.

The same act will set up an enforcement program to ensure cannabis products are kept away from minors, prevent illegal drug deals and keep the roads safe.

The Motor Vehicle Act will also be amended to address drug-affected driving in B.C., the first phase of which will give police additional tools to keep high drivers off the road.

Introduced in the legislature Thursday, provincial politicians will now take time to review and debate the acts before they become law. Actual implementation will depend on the federal government's timeline.

The federal Liberals initially expected to make weed legal by July 1, but an estimate from a senator suggests legal sales could be delayed until August.

Highlights of Bill 30

Among the guidelines for legal pot in B.C. outlined in the CCLA are that buyers must be at least 19 years old.

Members of the public cannot possess cannabis unless it was purchased from a licensed retailer (in B.C. or elsewhere), it was grown at home following the provincial guidelines or is medicinal.

Most who wish to grow non-medicinal cannabis at home can do so provided it is done in their primary residence, and no more than four plants are grown at a time. Plants cannot be grown from seeds the resident knows are illicit and cannot be visible from public places.

Adults can have up to 30 grams of dried cannabis, or an equivalent amount of other forms, while in public places. However, cannabis cannot be consumed in, on or near school properties.

Smoking or vaping is barred from health board properties, and the following public places, even if outdoors:

  • Skating rinks, sports fields, swimming pools, playgrounds and skate parks
  • Spray pools, wading pools or splash pads
  • Decks, seating areas, viewing areas or other similar locations
  • Parks, community recreation areas
  • Bus stops, train stations, taxi stands, ferry docks

Smoking or vaping is not permitted inside any place other than personal residences, as long as they are not being used as a workplace.

Anyone operating a vehicle or boat, or in a vehicle or boat being operated by someone else, cannot consume cannabis. Drivers who are under the influence while behind the wheel will face a 90-day driving prohibition, and new drivers will be prohibited from operating vehicles with any level of THC in their system.

Those who are intoxicated from cannabis must not be in or remain in public places or could face arrest.

Brand for provincial cannabis stores unveiled

Earlier this year, the province decided against combining booze and bud in brick-and-mortar stores. While many private liquor store owners were hopeful they'd be able to offer both, it was announced in February that they must be sold separately.

But like B.C.'s liquor sales system, the province will permit both government-run stores and private, licensed retailers to sell cannabis products. Government and private stores will only be permitted to sell a maximum of 30 grams of dried cannabis to an individual at a time.

The Liquor Control and Licensing Branch will oversee private retailers, while the Liquor Distribution Branch will operate the government's stores and a website where shoppers over the age of 19 can browse and buy. Privatized cannabis retailers will not be allowed to sell products online.

Both the website and the first retail store are expected to open by the end of the summer, the province said.

Following the introduction of the cannabis acts, the province released a first look at what government-run stores will look like, complete with familiar branding.

Although the businesses will be operated separately, the signage and name – BC Cannabis Stores – is set up to mimic BC Liquor Stores.


BC Cannabis Stores


Pot laws in other provinces

B.C. is one of the last provinces in Canada to table cannabis legislation.

Many opted to set the legal age of consumption as equivalent to the legal drinking age, meaning 19 and older in most provinces, and 18 and up in Alberta and Quebec. Manitoba set its legal age one year older than the drinking age, and bars sale of cannabis to someone already impaired by alcohol or other substance.

Government-run stores and/or websites will be operated in Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and the Yukon, while sales will be from private retailers only in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. All provinces that have introduced or passed legislations will allow sales online.

Residents of Manitoba and Quebec will not be permitted to grow plants in their own homes. Newfoundland is still deciding, and those living elsewhere can grow up to four.

Find out more about the individual policies with this breakdown by province