Provincial Cannabis Regimes Come Into Focus

Closely following the introduction of Ontario’s recent cannabis legislation, described in our November 2017 Blakes Bulletin: Ontario Introduces New Legislation to Regulate Recreational Cannabis, new details have emerged regarding the plans of the governments of New Brunswick and Manitoba to govern the sale of cannabis in their provinces. Plans for the Government of Alberta are expected to be released next week.

NEW BRUNSWICK

On November 9, 2017, the Government of New Brunswick introduced a suite of legislation aimed at regulating cannabis in anticipation of the federal government’s legalization of the substance in July 2018. If passed, the legislation will form the core of the province’s cannabis regime, regulating the supply, distribution and consumption of the product.

The Cannabis Management Corporation Act would establish a Crown corporation, the Cannabis Management Corporation (CMC), to control and oversee the retail sale of recreational cannabis products. The objective of the new Crown corporation would be to “undertake, implement, organize, conduct and manage the purchase, distribution and sale of recreational use cannabis products”. The decision to designate a Crown corporation for this role aligns with recommendations from a report on cannabis legalization released by a legislative committee earlier this year.

The Government of New Brunswick has stated that the CMC won’t be involved in running retail operations. Instead, the New Brunswick Liquor Corporation (the government-owned liquor retailer) would fill the retail role through a new subsidiary, which would establish up to 20 new stores to sell cannabis and related products. The government indicated that online retail would also be available from the New Brunswick Liquor Corporation in order to ensure accessibility of cannabis products across the province.

The new Cannabis Control Act (CCA) aims to provide a number of restrictions on the sale, use and consumption of cannabis. At the retail level, the CCA provides a number of restrictions on the sale, display and marketing of cannabis by retailers. The age for sale of cannabis is set at 19 years.

The Cannabis Education and Awareness Fund Act, as its name suggests, will establish a fund to be used for education and awareness programs related to cannabis. These would include programs concerning prevention of cannabis abuse, responsible use of cannabis and strategies for the reduction of adverse health effects associated with cannabis. The fund would be administered by the Minister of Finance. Funding would also be available to individuals and organizations that undertake initiatives related to the goals mentioned above.

An Act to Amend the New Brunswick Liquor Corporation Act amends the relevant Act to allow the New Brunswick Liquor Corporation to buy, distribute and sell recreational use cannabis and cannabis accessories, including equipment for the cultivation or consumption of cannabis.

MANITOBA

The Government of Manitoba made an announcement this week regarding its proposed cannabis regime.

On November 7, 2017, the government announced that it would proceed with a “hybrid model” for selling cannabis in the province. Specifically, under the yet-to-be-announced legislation, private sector retailers will sell cannabis products in the province.

The Government of Manitoba has issued a request for proposals from applicants seeking to operate one or more cannabis retail locations in the province. The deadline for submissions is December 22, 2017. The government has also signalled that it is open to private retailers selling cannabis online, but no additional details have been provided regarding how online sales might be regulated.

The public sector will still have a significant role in the provincial cannabis market. Under the proposed framework, the Liquor and Gaming Authority of Manitoba will be responsible for obtaining the province’s cannabis supply from licensed producers. Private retailers will be required to obtain their cannabis product from the Liquor and Gaming Authority of Manitoba. The provincial authority will work with private retailers to ensure safe storage and shipment of cannabis products.

This week’s announcement follows the passage of the Cannabis Harm Prevention Act, which received Royal Assent this past summer. That Act amended a number of other Manitoba statutes to better regulate the drug when it is no longer an illicit substance. For instance, the law amended the Manitoba Highway Traffic Act in order to restrict transportation and prohibit consumption of cannabis in motorized vehicles.

For further information, please contact:

Alexis Levine                             416-863-3089
Matthew Mundy                         416-863-2191

or any other member of our Cannabis group.

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