Vancouver, Canada

Mike Benna

British Columbia Finalizes Legal Cannabis Rules

British Columbia, Canada has established rules for the licensing of private cannabis stores, determined places to consume the plant, and set fines for cannabis-related infractions to prepare for next week’s Legalization Day, according to a Times Colonist report.

The province’s new rules ban the smoking or vaping of cannabis in parks, near schools, in vehicles (including boats), inside public buildings, and fewer than six meters from any doorway, window, or air intake.

Exceptions to these rules are allowed for people with medical prescriptions requiring consumption in a place like a school, with permission from the administration and proof of prescription. Mobile homes have been given a loophole, as well.

Officials set the fine for smoking in a forbidden location at $230, but it’s just $58 if you’re vaping.

Fines for breaking any cannabis marketing rules carry a $100,000 penalty for corporations and up to 12 months in jail for individuals. Retailing cannabis without a license — or selling improperly sourced cannabis — could cost violators $15,000 and a possible 15-day retail license suspension.

B.C. will also feature privately owned stores with strict record-keeping rules. The approval process for the first private stores is still underway. The only place to buy retail cannabis in B.C. on Legalization Day will be a single government-run store in Kamloops. More than 100 private retailers have applied for licenses but bureaucrats with the province said they’re not likely to approve any until after the next municipal election on Oct. 20.

B.C. will take a 15 percent cut of cannabis sales in the province. This stacks on top of other government taxes — a five percent federal tax, a seven percent provincial sales tax, and a 2.3 percent regulatory fee from Health Canada. Making the markup on cannabis nearly 30% just for taxes.

The provincial government is looking at legalization as a work in progress and expects changes and hiccups. For example, the province has not yet addressed issues like social consumption spaces and workplace impairment rules for civil servants.

Former B.C. health minister and now cannabis company V.P. Terry Lake said he expects a maturation process of three to five years.

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