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Legalization of Cannabis

On October 17th, 2018 the Cannabis Act will come into force in Canada and recreational cannabis use will be legalized.  Provinces and territories have been assigned responsibility to establish rules and regulations around how cannabis is stored, possession limits, minimum age and restricting where cannabis may be used in public. Appreciating that this is new legislation, and that there will be variations, the Medicine Hat Police Service wishes to highlight some important components of the new law for residents of Medicine Hat.

In Alberta, the Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Act provides the laws relating to the consumption and transportation of Cannabis.  This act states that the minimum age for cannabis consumption will be 18 years. Cannabis will be available for purchase from licensed retails stores or from www.albertacannabis.org.Individuals under the age of 18 years will be prohibited from entering a cannabis retail store, even when accompanied by an adult.  As of October 17, 2018, the sale of edible cannabis products will be illegal, but this may change in future years.

The possession limits in the Cannabis Act are based on dried cannabis. An individual over the age of 18 years may possess up to 30 grams of legal cannabis, dried or equivalent in non-dried form in public. Equivalents were developed for other cannabis products to identify what their possession limit would be. One (1) gram of dried cannabis is equal to:

  • 5 grams of fresh cannabis
  • 15 grams of edible product
  • 70 grams of liquid product
  • 0.25 grams of concentrates (solid or liquid)
  • 1 cannabis plant seed

This would mean, for example, that an adult 18 years of age or older, can legally possess 150 grams of fresh cannabis. Possession of amounts over the limit will remain a summary conviction criminal offence resulting in fines for small amounts or up to 5 years in jail.

No person may sell or provide cannabis to any person under the age of 18. The Act creates two new criminal offences, with maximum penalties of up to 14 years in jail, for:

  • giving or selling cannabis to youth
  • using a youth to commit a cannabis-related offence

Cannabis consumption in a vehicle will be prohibited, even by passengers, and will be subject to a $575 ticket.  While being transported, legal cannabis must be stored in a closed container that it is not within reach of anyone in the vehicle. Failing to do so will be subject to a $115 ticket.

Driving high is illegal. Police have a variety of tools available to verify impairment by drugs including; observations, Standardized Field Sobriety tests, evaluation by a Drug Recognition Expert and in certain circumstances, blood tests.

While the City of Medicine Hat has not yet finalized a bylaw relating to the public consumption of cannabis, there are several enforceable sections under the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Act (GLCA). Of most note is Section 90.28, which states that “No person may smoke or vape cannabis:

a)  in any area or place where that person is prohibited from smoking under the Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act or any other Act or the bylaws of a municipality,

b)  on any hospital property, school property or child care facility property,

c)  in or within a prescribed distance (5m) from

i.  a playground,

ii.  a sports or playing field,

iii.  a skateboard or bicycle park,

iv.  a zoo,

v.  an outdoor theatre,

vi.  an outdoor pool or splash pad, or

vii.  any other area or place that is prescribed or otherwise described in the regulations.”

With regard to 90.28 (a), Section 1(f) of the Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act defines a  “public place” as all or any part of a building, structure or other enclosed area to which members of the public have access as of right or by express or implied invitation including:

a)  the common areas of a multi-unit residential facility, including patios, pools, other recreation areas and enclosed parking garages,

b)  a group living facility,

c)  an outdoor bus or taxi shelter,

d)  licensed premises,

e)  a restaurant,

f)  a hotel;

The specified penalty for smoking or vaping in a defined public space is $287.

More information on cannabis legalization and regulation visit:

Government of Canada at http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/cj-jp/cannabis/

Alberta Government at https://www.alberta.ca/cannabis-legalization.aspx

City of Medicine Hat at: https://www.city.medicine-hat.ab.ca/government/departments/planning-development-services/planning-services/current-projects/cannabis-in-medicine-hat

Media Contact:

Inspector Joe West
Operational Services Division
Medicine Hat Police Service
Ph: 403-529-8414