British Columbia

Legislation History

British Columbia, home of the B.C. Bud of cannabis lore, will have legal access to adult use marijuana on Oct. 17, 2018.

 

With favorable growing climates, particularly in areas such as Fraser Valley, Okanagan, and Vancouver Island, as well as the influx of-seed-carrying United States expats seeking to avoid Vietnam War duty in the 1960s, British Columbia built a thriving cannabis culture. It is the home to world-renowned strains, informally called B.C. Buds. The western Canadian province has also been a player at the forefront of the country in advocacy for legalization, not to mention consumption. According to Canada’s 2017 Cannabis Provincial and Territorial Economic Accounts statistics, British Columbia is the No. 1 producer of cannabis in Canada and No. 2 in per-capita consumption.

 

The British Columbia Legislative Assembly in August 2018 passed Bill 30 – 2018: Cannabis Control and Licensing Act, which governs adult-use marijuana.

 

Regulated use of medical marijuana has been legal since 2001 and remains in effect.

 

Coupled with the passage of legalized medicinal and recreational use, British Columbia took steps to increase penalties for driving while impaired and keep cannabis away from minors.

 

Driving while impaired is illegal nationally, and British Columbia has imposed a pair of additional penalties and regulations.

 

In British Columbia, a 90-day Administrative Driving Prohibition will be assessed to a driver whom officers reasonably believe operated under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol based on blood or fluid analysis or evaluation by a drug recognition analyst.

 

Also in British Columbia, there is a zero-tolerance policy for the presence of THC for new drivers in the Graduated License Program.

 

Under federal guidelines, those found to drive while impaired face tiered penalties. On Dec. 18, 2018, the as part of an overall reform to the criminal codes for transportation offences will be in enforced. Among the changes, police will have greater latitude in stopping suspected impaired drivers and compelling the motorists to submit to an oral or blood screening device regardless of discernible signs of impairment.

 

The legal limit for THC in the bloodstream is two (2) nanograms per milliliter. A nanogram is one-billionth of a gram. Concentrations between two (2) and five (5) nanograms result in a fine up to $1,000. Concentrations of 5 or more nanograms will result in a $1,000 minimum fine on the first offense, imprisonment of 30 days or more on a second offense, and 120 days or more on a third offense. Drug-impaired driving accidents can range from 18 months to as much as life imprisonment for a fatal accident.

 

Providing marijuana to a minor is punishable by a $5,000 fine and up to 14 years in jail.

 

Minors will face fines up to $2,000 if found in possession of cannabis.

 

Anyone found intoxicated in public or behind the wheel of a car, or anyone who has exceeded the amount he or she can carry or grow will also face fines up to $5,000 the first time or $10,000 on second offences, with potential jail time ranging from three to six months.

How to Purchase

Private businesses in British Columbia will be allowed to open cannabis stores under the umbrella of the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch, which has released information on applying for a license. Operators will be required to undergo a federal background check.

 

The BC Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) will oversee the stores, online sales, and be the sole wholesale distributor of non-medical cannabis. It will open under the brand name BC Cannabis Stores.

 

Both government-run and private retail stores will only be permitted to sell a maximum of 30 grams of dried cannabis, or the equivalent in oil or seed, to an individual at one time.

 

BC Cannabis Stores will be the province’s sole online cannabis retailer.

 

The Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch, formerly the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch, is responsible for licensing private, non-medical cannabis retail stores and monitoring compliance of both government-run and private stores.

Stores can only sell cannabis and accessories. They may not sell other items, such as tobacco, liquor, or snacks, and are not allowed to co-locate with another business.

 

Illegal sale of cannabis can result in a number of provincial offences ranging from $2,000 to $100,000 in fines, as well as three to 12 months imprisonment.

Where is it Safe to Consume?

Smoking will be allowed on private property and residences with the property owner’s approval. For rental properties, landlords can write-in or continue cannabis smoking restrictions similar to those for smoking tobacco and other substances. Landlords can also add restrictions to growing.

 

Smoking marijuana will generally be allowed in public spaces where tobacco smoking and vaping are permitted.

 

A person will not be allowed to consume cannabis in public where tobacco smoking of vaping is prohibited. This includes:

  • on or in the vicinity of school property
  • health board property, except designated areas where other smoking is allowed
  • outdoors at parks or community recreation areas
  • sports facilities
  • spray or wading pools
  • deck, seating, or viewing areas

Indoor smoking and vaping are not allowed in a workplace, restrooms, meeting rooms, break rooms, common areas within apartment buildings, condominiums, or dormitories. A person cannot smoke or vape cannabis in a bus, train, taxi or ferry, or stops or similar places marked for passenger loading or unloading.

 

It is illegal to consume cannabis while operating a land, sea, or air vehicle, or as a passenger in a vehicle. The law applies regardless of whether the vehicle is in motion.

Possession Information and Limits

Adult use

The minimum age to buy or possess cannabis in British Columbia is 19.

 

The province allows possession by adults 19 and older of up to 30 grams of cannabis in a public place. In a vehicle, cannabis must be stored in a sealed container that is not accessible during transport to the driver or passengers. The government has set equivalencies for one (1) gram of dried cannabis to equal five (5) grams of fresh cannabis, 15 grams of edibles, 70 grams of liquid, 0.25 grams of concentrate and one plant seed.

 

Premade edibles and extract will not be available until one year after the legislation is passed, although consumers can create their own edibles.

 

Penalties for possession over the limit ranges from a fine up to 5 years in jail, depending on the amount of cannabis the person is holding in public.

 

No limit has been established for the amount of cannabis that can be stored in a home.

Medical

Patients using medical marijuana are allowed to possess up to 150 grams, or 30 times the daily dose prescribed by an authorized health care practitioner, of dried marijuana or its equivalent at any given time, including in public.

How Old Do I Need
to Be to Consume?
19+
Recreational
18+
Medical
Possession Limit
for Flower
30 grams
Recreational
150 grams
Medical
Possession Limit
for Concentrates
N/A
Recreational
N/A
Medical

Growing Rules

The British Columbia Cannabis Control and Licensing Act authorizes adults to grow up to four (4) plants per household. Plants must not be visible from public spaces off the property. The limits are in addition to the authorized limit of licensed growing of medical marijuana. Home cultivation is also banned in homes used as day-care or community-care centers.

Medical Marijuana

Thousands of Canadians are federally licensed to possess and use medical marijuana. Until the new law is passed, Canadians must the qualify for the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR), which came into effect on Aug. 24, 2016.

 

Recipients must provide medical documentation confirming the diagnosis by an authorized physician or nurse practitioner.

 

Patients must not be convicted of a marijuana-related offense, and patients only can be registered at one facility at a time.

Qualifying Conditions

Generally, patients can qualify for medical marijuana under two categories. One is to allow for compassionate end-of-life care, for pain symptoms ranging from seizures to spinal cord injury to side effects from cancer or HIV/AIDS medications. The second category is for patients suffering from other persistent debilitating symptoms. Among the ailments Health Canada lists as possibly qualifying are:

  • ADD/ADHD
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Anxiety
  • Arthritis
  • Back and neck conditions
  • Brain injury
  • Cancer
  • Chronic nausea
  • Chronic pain
  • Colitis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Epilepsy
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Hepatitis C
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Kidney failure, including dialysis patients
  • Migraines
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscle spasms
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Severe arthritis
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Sleep disorders
  • Vehicular crashes

Application Process

Information on eligibility and applying is available online.

Caregiving

Authorized caregivers are allowed to possess fresh or dried marijuana or cannabis oil and may transfer or administer the substance or provide a medical document. They may also transfer substance to an individual who is responsible for the person under their professional treatment.

 

This page was last updated September 7, 2018.