Cannabis Legalization Is Almost Upon Us

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All is not smooth sailing, though. There are some cities across Canada that have decided to leap off the bandwagon just shy of October 17, 2018. The upcoming nationwide legalization of marijuana has left Canada in a state of breathless anticipation. However, cannabis enthusiasts may find themselves disappointed as not all cities are falling in line with the passing of Bill C-45 to legalize the drug. With all of these diametric changes in the drug laws in Canada, stay alert. It’s best to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Toronto as early as possible if you require legal intervention for drug related offenses.

Scattershot Regulations Regarding Cannabis Sales

While Trudeau’s administration is intent on regulating the production of cannabis, it has adopted a flexible approach with how the drug is to be dispensed. Each province may choose its preferred channel of dealing marijuana, with Ontario and Quebec initially having settled on subsidiaries of provincial liquor stores, and Alberta and Manitoba on privately run outlets. Many have raised objections at what is regarded as being a scattershot approach to governing such a controversial issue. These fluctuating regulations across the country have been met with rebuke from many, on the grounds that it isn’t wise to allow cities to eschew federal legislations as and when they see fit. It is feared that unyielding communities will relegate cannabis sales back into illegal channels – which was one of the primary factors that triggered the legalization in the first place. Pro-cannabis communities hold the opinion that a refusal of cannabis stems from a stigma of cannabis. The legalization is still the subject of speculation and derision. Several studies suggest that legalization will not do much by way of weeding out organized crime as far as production, distribution and sale of the drug are concerned. What’s more, it will cost the province well over 6 million annually to train frontline officers and invest in roadside testing equipment so as to curb driving under the influence.

Cities That Have Shrugged Off Cannabis Sales

Several jurisdictions across the country have chosen to go against the grain and restrict weed shops altogether. North Vancouver, West Vancouver, Richmond, Richmond Hill, Markham, Abbotsford, Whistler, Pitt Meadows and Tofino opted out of selling the drug outright. If you reside in any of these areas, you will either have to travel to a pro-cannabis municipality or use a mail order system to purchase the drug (much like the manner in which medical marijuana is currently being dispensed). Much closer to home, Ontario is now going down the private route as far as marijuana sales are concerned, owing to Premier Ford’s reversal of former Premier Kathleen Wynne’s LCBO-monopoly plan for dispensing the drug. Now, municipalities can refuse to host retail pot stores at their discretion. Meanwhile, the community in Richmond, BC is equally up in arms about the legalization and has strongly voiced its displeasure. It has requested the provincial government to allow it to carefully restrict purchase within its confines. Councillor Carol Day highlighted the municipality’s orthodox lifestyle, as opposed to more indulgent jurisdictions, and stressed the importance of preserving that lifestyle. Following in the heels of her argument, Councillor Derek Dang expressed that cannabis may well be a gateway drug to more detrimental substances like Fentanyl.

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Other cities like Pitt Meadows, West Van and Tofino have invoked the ban as sort of a short-term tactic, until such time that these municipalities can draft their own rules around cannabis sales. There are several factors that will shape these regulations, not the least of which are the upcoming municipal elections in BC during the month of October. Brick-and-Mortar Stores in Ontario to be Up and Running by Early 2019At the very outset, Ontario identified 14 municipalities that would run LCBO-operated recreational cannabis outlets. Vaughan was one of the first juridictions to be singled out for this cause with Richmond Hill being an other. David Barrow, Mayor of Richmond Hill, passed a unanimous motion informing the provincial government that the town is unwilling to host a retail cannabis store in the community. The legalization of cannabis has been up in the air prior to its official confirmation in June 2018. This hasn’t afforded the province all that much time to set up designated brick-and-mortar outlets to accommodate recreational cannabis sales. Unfazed by the pushback from various jurisdictions, Ontario still plans to open the first wave of stores by April 2019, 80 stand-alone stores by July 2019 and 150 by 2020.

Legal Ramifications of Breaking Cannabis Laws

Cannabis possession laws are as concrete as ever. Adults, aged 18 and above, will be restricted from carrying over 30g of dried cannabis at a time. Each province is allowed to set its own minimum age limit. Failure to adhere to this provision can result in a five-year imprisonment. Barring Alberta and Quebec, who have set the minimum age at 18, the other provinces have settled on 19 years as the legal minimum. The law does allow you to share the drug freely among acquaintances but you cannot deal it. Unlicensed retailers will be levied with a fine of $5000 and face up to 14 years in prison. Nine provinces have stipulated that you cannot grow more than four plants in your home and these should not be over one meter high. British Columbia has an added provision to this, requiring that these plants should not be grown in view of the public.

With Bill C-46, the impaired driving laws have received a slight adjustment. If a driver has two but less than five nanograms of THC (the primary ingredient in marijuana) in their blood while operating a vehicle, they will face a fine of $1000. Exceeding five nanograms can result in jail time of upto ten years along with a substantial fine. Each province has been given the freedom to set their own regulations for driving when high. Quebec has adopted a zero tolerance policy, resorting to suspending drivers for 90 days if even a trace of cannabis is detected in their system. Alberta and Ontario will invoke a zero tolerance policy only for new drivers. Convicted of a Drug Offense? Timely Representation is Crucial!Drug possession laws in Canada will soon receive a complete overhaul. John Erickson is a senior criminal lawyer and Ex-Crown Prosecutor with nearly two decades of experience defending individuals convicted of drug offences. Call (416) 363 3612 today for affordable and reliable legal representation.

15 April 2020

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