NEW RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA LAWS IN THE MARITIMES
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By Michelle Moore
With a little over a month to go until the Federal Government's decision to legalize recreational marijuana comes into effect on October 17 2018, WT is looking into the new legislation for the maritime provinces.
Marijuana has been illegal in Canada for 95 years with the exception of medicinal marijuana, only available since 1999.
Provinces differ when it comes to specific legislation including where one can buy and smoke marijuana, and whether or not one can grow it themselves. In addition to provincial laws, consumers should be vigilant as counties and municipalities can set their own bylaws as well.
In Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador the minimum age required to purchase marijuana will be 19 and consumers can carry up to 30 grams of dried cannabis.
Some provinces have no maximum amount for what you are allowed to keep at home. Anyone in those provinces is also permitted to grow up to 4 plants per household, though each province has laid out guidelines that need to be respected.
Let's start with Nova Scotia. Marijuana will only be sold through the government-run Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation (NSLC) locations, of which there will be 12 doing so. People under 19 can enter the store but cannot enter the section selling marijuana.
On August 24 NSLC placed its first order of 3.75 million grams or 8370 pounds of marijuana.
In addition to flowers or buds, NSLC will also be selling marijuana pre-rolled like cigarettes, seeds, oil and gel caps.
The types and quantities are based on consumer data from previous marijuana sales in North America. Bret Mitchell, NSLC President & CEO said "we have done our homework and believe the 78 strains we have ordered will provide customers with a varied product assortment."
A customer education program will be launched to remind consumers not to drive afterward, not to mix cannabis with alcohol, to keep it out of reach and sight of children, and to start slow as cannabis may affect people differently.
For transporting marijuana in a vehicle, the bag or container must be sealed and out of reach of anyone, failure to do so can result in a $2000 fine for improper storage. At home, consumers can have as much as they would like provided it is kept out of reach of children and pets.
Landlords who want to prevent tenants from smoking or growing in their home or apartment can make an amendment to an existing lease up to one year after legalization. The landlord would present the written amendment to the renter who has one month to accept or give a 3 month notice to vacate.
The Smoke-free Places Act determines where one can smoke marijuana or anything else. All indoor and outdoor public places as well as terraces associated to restaurants and bars are considered smoke free.
It is illegal to smoke within 4 metres of any place of employment, within 20 metres of playgrounds and sports fields, and within 9 metres of public trails. It is also illegal to smoke in a provincial park or beach unless you are on the boundaries of a rented campsite.
In New Brunswick, people can buy marijuana from government-run stores or online. It will be available at 20 Cannabis NB stores, a subsidiary of the New Brunswick Liquor Corporation.
Anyone under 19 cannot enter the store, and everyone will have their ID checked upon entering. Like Nova Scotia, there is no limit on how much you can have at home
Marijuana cannot be consumed anywhere in public. Consumption is limited to private dwellings and the associated backyards provided permission from the homeowner has been granted.
Those who choose to grow marijuana indoors must keep the plants in a separate and locked space. Outdoors, plants must be kept within a locked enclosure at least 1.52 metres tall. Landlords can choose to prohibit the use or growth on their properties by providing an amendment to renters.
Prince Edward Island will allow the sale of cannabis at their four government-owned retail locations as well as online. The stores will sell dried cannabis, cannabis oil, seeds and seedlings.
Smoking is restricted to private dwellings and yards with the exception of some spaces designated for that purpose. It is also allowed on vacant land provided the owner has agreed.
A hotel room is considered a private dwelling for the purposes of this legislation as are recreational vehicles and tents. However, the operator of a campground may set rules restricting use on their property.
In provincial parks and beaches that have nonsmoking signs for cigarettes, the same will apply for marijuana unless being consumed on a rented campground. Fines for first offenses will be $200.
Finally, in Newfoundland and Labrador the government will run online sales while store locations will be managed by Cannabis NL, part of the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation, who was mandated to regulate cannabis retailers.
Marijuana can be sold by private business owners or Cannabis NL. So far 24 locations have received approval and will be selling flowers, oils and capsules. Ten locations are attached to supermarkets that already sold alcohol.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business has criticized the way in which business proposals are approved, saying it discriminates small business owners.
There are some gaps where proposals were not received or not accepted which means some people could be driving quite the distance to visit their nearest marijuana retailer.
Smoking is limited to private dwellings and the land associated to them. Prices will be set by Cannabis NL and will maintain common pricing between similar products for both privately and government run stores across the province.
Overall, there are some gaps in the provincial legislation that will need to be worked out as the date nears. Perhaps the biggest question is what prices consumers can expect to pay?
Questions also arise as to how law enforcement will proceed. Will consumers need to keep proof of their legal purchase on their person or be ready to provide photos of their home grow operation to show they have not obtained the marijuana illegally?
Clarifications of the sort are yet to come as is the legislation on edibles and concentrates in 2019. Until then they can be legally made and consumed in the home but not sold for profit.
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