It has come to no surprise that the trend for marijuana is currently rising. On April 13, 2017, Trudeau government tabled its Bill C-45 or Cannabis Act. Former entrepreneurs, investors, and politicians are trying to get in on the actions and rushing to play the market as they see the fast pace of the drive toward
legalization to be worth billions. In Canada, the legalization of marijuana is on the right track and is hoping to become official in terms of sales by August, 2018.
As of March, 2018, the government is pushing the legalization slightly further since several provinces have asked them to delay it in order to give them more time to prepare. The federal government initially promised to legalize cannabis before or in July, 2018. The detailed reason behind the delay is that after Parliament officially approves Bill C-45, provinces and the territories will still need 2 to 3 months to get ready for legalization and implementation. The Bill C-45 is currently at the second-reading stage of the legislative process and will be studied by five Senate committees, in which the work of all committees is expected to be finalized by the end of May, 2018.
Going in to more depth of what legalization would change how people are dispensing marijuana, the government is basically creating a system in order to regulate marijuana production, sale, and distribution. They will also be collecting licensing fee and taxes on those sales. Each province in Canada will be the one who set more rules about the sale and distribution on their own, regarding to their provinces’ preferences. The federal government will only provide minimum conditions and has not yet come to an official decision on how much to charge for the marijuana. This action would help significantly in taking profits away from criminals and organized crime. It would be considered as serious offenses if people were to produce and distribute marijuana outside the government regulation after the legalization has been enforced. Legalization will mean greater access to medicine that has been hold up by criminalization. It will naturally remove the criminal component if the policy is based on one simple strategy, which is to remove the profit motive that drives the back market.
In the case of people concerning over underage kids and teens having access over marijuana, the government is complementing the law enforcement the same way as they did for alcohol, which will prohibit teens and minors who are under the legal age from buying and having access over the marijuana. This will have resulted in a highly regulated system of distribution, which would be as successful as how the government has been with alcohol. Many people think that cannabis should not be normalized as it could lead to increase in youth consumption. It is actually more likely that normalizing marijuana will have the opposite effect as the thrill of cannabis possession is no longer in existence. The studies also indicate youth consumption to be declined since legalization in Colorado.
During Trudeau visit to Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt in the Victoria area, “The first is to protect our kids. Right now, we know that young people have easier access to marijuana than just about any other illicit substance. It’s easier to buy a joint for a teenager than it is to buy a bottle of beer. That’s not right,” he said. “Secondly, we know that criminal organizations and street gangs are making billions of dollars off of the sale of marijuana. We feel that regulating it, controlling it will bring that revenue out of the pockets of criminals and put it into a system where we can both monitor, tax it and ensure that we are supporting people who are facing challenges related or unrelated to drug use.”
Another big question people are having now is how the law enforcement is going to deal with driving while consuming or has consumed marijuana, since there is no test that is fast and accurate enough to measure it. There is however, a law implemented for people who are driving high as for them to be prohibited from driving for 90 days. Also, people who are transporting marijuana in their vehicle must keep it seal and out of reach.
In British Columbia, as of February 2018, people are approaching to an eligibility to start opening private retail and getting a license for the selling of non-medical cannabis. The people who are eligible are all applicants who will go through background checks of criminal/police records and need to obtain local government support.
In terms of rules and regulation, it will most likely be the same as how the liquor store would operate. The public and private retailers will have similar operating rules. People who are considering applying for a provincial license to retail non-medical cannabis will be provided with information to help with making business decisions and the application processes. This guide will not only help the retailer but the government in preparation for potential retail store applications.
As soon as the application portal opens, the applicants may start the process by entering information and documents that are part of the requirements. It will help you to be prepared with your documents so that you can begin as soon as the applicable legislation is passed. British Columbia will be conducting reviews of applicants thoroughly to ensure that the licensed retailers will operate in a lawful manner and safe for both retailer and consumer. In order to process a significant number of applications as efficiently as possible, the province is constructing plans for it to be put in place. Each applicant will be required to pay an application fee and a licensing fee.
In terms of eligibility, if the applicant operated an illegal dispensary prior to legalization, it does not mean that this fact on its own will exclude the applicant from being considered for a license. All of the applicants will be considered using the same evaluation criteria, including background checks and local government support. Also, if the applicant does have a criminal record, it will not necessarily exclude the applicant from obtaining a license. The background check will be examined on a case-by-case basis and evaluated in relation to the recentness of the activity committed and their relevance to the application.
All retailers who are interested in distributing non-medical cannabis must apply for the retail license regardless of whether or not the retailer already have a liquor and/or tobacco license. Also, if the retailers are already owning liquor and/or tobacco store, it is a requirement to operate the non-medical retail cannabis store in a completely separate business location. If the retailer has an interest in becoming both a federally licensed producer or processor and a licensed retailer, the B.C. Liquor Control and Licensing Branch will place restrictions in order to prohibited the selling of its products to the retail if there is a close association between the two parties. The reason for enforcing a restriction over this is to ensure that the market remains diverse and that larger participants will not associated and control the market.
There is other information regarding the requirements needed for the application and general operational details. The additional application required information are, supplying the related documents and names of partners, shareholders, directors, officers, and/or senior management. The applicants will also need to provide the parcel identifier number, proof of ownership or a copy of a fully executed lease that does not expire for at least 12 months from the date of license approval, and a floor plan of the store. The province will not enforce the exact distance requirements for non-medical cannabis retailers, but the local governments will have the power to enforce those additional requirements. That being said, the retailer should inquire with the local government about the requirements before choosing and committing to a location. In terms of the store name, it must be approved by the B.C. Liquor Control and Licensing Branch and cannot be misleading as to what type of business you operate. It would not pass the approval if non-medical cannabis retailers were to name their store something that would lead people to believe that they are the provider of medical cannabis.