Client Update: New Brunswick introduces Cannabis Control Act

Kevin Landry and Jamie Watson

New Brunswick’s proposed cannabis regulatory scheme has been introduced. An initial press release was followed by the introduction of amendments to the New Brunswick Liquor Control Act, and the Motor Vehicle Act as well as three new bills on November 9, 2017:

 

THE CANNABIS MANAGEMENT CORPORATION

As background, on October 25, 2017, the Government of New Brunswick announced that NB Liquor would operate recreational cannabis retail locations in the province, through a subsidiary. The amendments to the New Brunswick Liquor Control Act extend NB Liquor’s mandate to include cannabis and permits it to have a subsidiary responsible for cannabis.

The Cannabis Management Corporation Act establishes the crown corporation responsible for cannabis in New Brunswick. The objects of the corporation are to:

  • undertake, implement, organize, conduct and manage the purchase, distribution and sale of recreational cannabis on behalf of the government;
  • ensure the purchase, distribution, and sale of recreational use cannabis are conducted and managed in secure, responsible retail outlets in accordance with pertinent legislation; and,
  • promote the responsible consumption of recreational use cannabis.

The Cannabis Management Corporation will also establish policies on responsible consumption of recreational use cannabis and undertake initiatives for public education. In addition, the Cannabis Management Corporation will be responsible for regulating various aspects of the recreational cannabis industry such as:

  • prescribing products for distribution and sale;
  • arranging agreements with service providers; and,
  • establishing an end-to-end tracking system for cannabis purchase and sale.

 

THE CANNABIS EDUCATION AND AWARENESS FUND

The Cannabis Education and Awareness Fund Act establishes a fund from the revenues of the Cannabis Management Corporation which will be used for education and awareness programs concerning prevention of cannabis abuse, responsible use, and strategies to reduce adverse health effects of cannabis use. The fund will also sponsor research on cannabis, and implement responsible use policies.

 

THE CANNABIS CONTROL ACT

What it does

The Cannabis Control Act (the “CCA”) will govern the use of recreational cannabis in New Brunswick. It sets the minimum legal age for buying cannabis at 19 years of age, restricts young people’s access to cannabis, sets criteria for the possession and use of cannabis, and establishes penalties for drug-impaired driving.

How it affects medical cannabis users

The CCA does not apply to medical use cannabis, with two exceptions:

  • neither recreational nor medical use cannabis shall be consumed in a vehicle on a highway, roadway or off-road vehicle trail; and,
  • neither recreational nor medical use cannabis shall be smoked in a place where smoking is prohibited under the Smoke-free Places Act.

Legal age

Under the CCA, persons under age 19 are prohibited from:

  • possessing or consuming cannabis in any form;
  • entering, or attempting to enter, cannabis retail stores, even when accompanied by an adult;
  • cultivating cannabis;accepting delivery or gifts of cannabis; and,
  • purchasing or attempting to purchase:
    • cannabis in any form
    • cannabis-smoking or -vaping supplies; or,
    • cannabis plant-starter material.

Possession

The CCA requires that cannabis stored in a private home would have to be in a locked container or a locked room to ensure it is kept from minors.

The CCA also includes requirements to secure cannabis when it is being grown on private property, either by cultivating in a separate, locked space (indoors) or by surrounding the plants with a 1.52 meter fence (outdoors).

Consumption

Under the CCA, consumption of recreational cannabis will not be permitted in public places.

Driving

The CCA prohibits the consumption or use of recreational and medical use cannabis in a vehicle on a highway, roadway, or off-road vehicle trail, whether or not the vehicle is in motion. Amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act would establish a drug-impaired driving program. Proposed sanctions include:

  • immediate short-term roadside suspensions;
  • an administrative licence suspension program for those charged with or convicted of drug-impaired driving;
  • discretionary and mandatory vehicle impoundment for short-term and administrative licence suspensions;
  • participation in a re-education course for drug-impaired drivers;
  • licence reinstatement fees for drug-impaired drivers; and,
  • zero tolerance for novice drivers and those under 21 years of age.

Distribution and delivery

The CCA exclusively authorizes the Cannabis Management Corporation to oversee the distribution of recreational cannabis in the province. The corporation is authorized to enter into agreements for the implementation, organization, purchase, distribution and sale of recreational cannabis. The CCA authorizes the corporation to enter into agreements with common carriers to transport and deliver cannabis and cannabis accessories on its behalf. Only a service provider who is authorized by an agreement with this corporation may display or promote cannabis.

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