As Canada moves closer to introducing legal recreational cannabis, investors in marijuana begin to see the outlines of regulations within the provinces
With just months to go until recreational marijuana sales are scheduled to be legal across Canada (on Nov. 29 the House of Commons passed Bill C-45, which legalizes cannabis; now the Senate must pass the bill before it becomes law in July) regulators are beginning to shape how commercial cannabis will look in their provinces. While cannabis will be legal in every province, the rules surrounding cannabis will vary from province to province. As we march towards legalization, we all should play close attention to how regulations are firming up in the provinces. For investors in marijuana, the shape and scope of the provincial regulations will be paramount.
Alberta for Marijuana Investors
In November lawmakers in Alberta introduced Bill 26, An Act to Control and Regulate Cannabis, which would provide a regulatory framework for lawmakers. The rules will likely come as proposed amendments to the Gaming and Liquor Act. Among the elements of the Bill:
- Minimum consumption age of 18
- Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission will serve as a central clearinghouse for cannabis — the body will secure and distribute marijuana to private retailers in a fashion similar to how it works with the alcohol industry.
- Responsibility for licensing retailers falls to the AGLC.
- A Government of Alberta website will be the hub for all online sales of cannabis.
- Brick-and-mortar sales of cannabis are permitted only in facilities dedicated to cannabis sales. Cannabis cannot be sold in places that sell alcohol, tobacco and pharmaceuticals.
- The AGLC will determine advertising policies for cannabis.
- Rules that govern where tobacco cannot be consumed apply to cannabis, including bars and restaurants.
British Columbia for Marijuana Investors
The latest news out of BC’s approach towards cannabis regulations revolves around the province’s Cannabis Regulation Engagement website, which was designed to elicit cannabis regulatory feedback from citizens. According to a news release issued in November from BC, the site attracted 127,952 visits, with 48,151 British Columbians filling out the feedback form and providing views on topics such as minimum age, personal possession limits, public consumption, drug-impaired driving, personal cultivation and distribution and retail models. It was one of the most successful outreach efforts on the part of the government, according to the release. Feedback will be used to help shape marijuana policy, the parameters of which have not yet been announced. Premier John Horgan, however, has championed a public-private approach, one similar to the province’s liquor regulatory structure.
Manitoba for Marijuana Investors
Regulatory plans remain fluid in Manitoba, but the province this month did introduce plans for a hybrid model that will task the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corp. to source and track marijuana, but give to private retail stores the responsibility for selling the cannabis. Stores will determine prices, pot will not be sold in the same locations as alcohol and municipalities in Manitoba are free to ban cannabis stores within their municipal limits.
People and companies that would like to open one or more retail shops within the province have until Dec. 22 to submit applications.
Premier Brian Pallister said the province today does not have enough licensed producers to meet demand, but anticipates the industry will grow enough prior to legalization in July to satisfy consumer demand.
New Brunswick for Marijuana Investors
Marijuana sales in the province will be controlled by New Brunswick Liquor, which will establish up to 20 stores across the province once recreational cannabis is legal. Among the potential stipulations: marijuana shops must be at least 300 metres from schools, legal age is 19, and all products must be displayed under glass. One potential quirk in New Brunswick: Cannabis must be kept in a locked, secure container in homes to keep it away from minors.
Newfoundland and Labrador for Marijuana Investors
Approaches towards regulations have not yet been promulgated, but it looks likely that private stores will sell marijuana in the province. Also, Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation will likely license and regulate the shops that sell marijuana.
Public consumption? It’s unlikely to be legal in N.L., which mirrors rules for alcohol. Private homes and private property will likely be the only places where cannabis consumption will be legal in the province. Also, it appears the legal age will be 19. As in some other provinces, though, potential rules have yet to be announced.
Northwest Territories for Marijuana Investors
As in British Columbia, the Northwest Territories has sought community input as it wrestles with crafting a regulatory structure, and the response has been strong. While potential pot laws for legal recreational cannabis in the Northwest Territories remains unclear, a slight majority of residents who offered feedback to the government through a public survey preferred the liquor commission model for retail stores, rather than private shops.
Nova Scotia for Marijuana Investors
While proposed regulations have not yet been announced, Justice Minister Mark Furey pledged to unveil the province’s intentions regarding cannabis sales by the end of the year. Mirroring efforts undertaken in other provinces, Nova Scotia in October invited citizens to participate in an online survey covering topics such as minimum age for cannabis purchase (Ottawa set the minimum age as 18, but provinces are free to raise the minimum age within their jurisdictions), where it can be purchased where it can be consumed.
Nunavut for Marijuana Investors
Many provinces turn to their liquor control boards for management and regulation of cannabis sales. But alcohol sales in the territory of Nunavut are unique — private individuals first must order the alcohol, which is then shipped in by plane or ship. Marijuana regulations in the remote territory could be as bespoke as they are for alcohol. As it stands now, regulators are relying upon community feedback that was solicited during the summer to help guide efforts to regulate marijuana.
Ontario for Marijuana Investors
The province was the first to publicly announce proposed regulations. Among other things, the province’s proposed Cannabis Act, 2017 would:
- Set the minimum age at 19
- Ban cannabis use from public places, workplaces and vehicles
- Entrust the Liquor Control Board of Canada to create a new provincial retailer, which would regulate sales through stores and online services. The proposed regulations would permit about 150 stores by 2020, and also allow for online sales throughout the province
Prince Edward Island for Marijuana Investors
Public input has been vital for officials as they weigh how to regulate marijuana once it is legal across Canada beginning July 1. So far, the island has invited citizens to weigh-in on a range of key questions, including the legal age, whether stores selling cannabis should be public or private, public consumption and growing cannabis at home.
Quebec for Marijuana Investors
Provincial officials have asked Ottawa several times to delay marijuana legalization across Canada, saying they need more time to, among other things, hammer out rules for how tax revenues from marijuana will be divvied up between Quebec and Ottawa. It is unlikely, however, that Ottawa will push back its target date of July 1 for legalization. Meanwhile, provincial officials have been working hard to wrestle with building a sound regulatory framework. So far, we know:
- The legal age will be 18.
- Société des alcools, a government entity, will likely control distribution and sales of marijuana in the province.
- It is believed the Société des alcools will control online sales as well.
- Public consumption regulations could mirror those that surround tobacco use.
- Growing marijuana at home will be banned.
Saskatchewan for Marijuana Investors
Justice Minister Don Morgan said in November that he could favor private marijuana shops over publicly controlled ones. The government, he said in an interview, might want to steer clear of owning cannabis-related entities, as well as marketing cannabis products. Morgan made his comments on the same day as a prominent report supported a model that ran cannabis sales through private retailers that are licensed and regulated by the province.
Yukon for Marijuana Investors
Territorial authorities in November announced that key aspects of the marijuana industry, including importation and distribution, will be controlled by the government and that the legal age will be 19. However retail stores could involve a combination of private and government-owned locations. In addition, in Yukon possession will be limited to 30 grams and the number of plants that citizens can grow at home is capped at four.