Client Update: New Brunswick’s final cannabis report: government operated stores, guidance on growing at home

Rick Dunlop and Kevin Landry

New Brunswick’s Final Report of the Select Committee on Cannabis was released September 1, 2017.

The Committee was appointed by the Legislature of New Brunswick and was mandated to conduct public consultation in New Brunswick regarding recreational cannabis. On June 21, 2017 the Committee released an interim report which we discussed in more detail in our article Weeding Through New Brunswick’s Latest Cannabis Recommendations. In July the Committee hosted public discussion across the province.

The Committee is not the final decision maker. Its mandate was to report to the Legislature a “summary of public consultations on the interim report”.

The following is a summary of the recommendations contained in the Report:

New Brunswick should use a public distributor and government operated stores

The Report recommends that a public distributor sell recreational cannabis through government operated stores:

The New Brunswick Working Group on the Legalization of Cannabis studied the legalization of recreational cannabis in Colorado and Washington, who moved directly to a private delivery model that resulted in a large number of private cannabis businesses. These states have since found it difficult to regulate the private sector and keep out the illegal market. Based on these experiences, the Working Group proposes that recreational cannabis be sold through a public distributor in government-operated stores. In the opinion of the Working Group, this poses the best compromise to restrict youth access to recreational cannabis and ensure prices can compete with the illegal market.

The Report comments on, but does not outline clear recommendations for: co-location, municipal zoning, appropriate staff training levels for retailers, or proximity of recreational cannabis sales to locations where children are likely to be present.

The legal age should be 19

The Cannabis Act provides that provincial legislation may depart from various provisions of the Cannabis Act. For example, although the Cannabis Act permits adults as young as 18 to partake in recreational cannabis, the Report recommends that New Brunswick adopt the age of 19:

The federal Cannabis Act sets a minimum age of 18 for the possession and consumption of recreational cannabis. Although 18 will be the minimum legal age in Canada, the provinces and territories can set a higher age limit. The New Brunswick Working Group on the Legalization of Cannabis proposes that the legal age be set at 19 to harmonize with the legal age for alcohol and tobacco.

Additional safeguards for personal growing

The Report recommends home cultivators be required to keep cannabis “secure and inaccessible by children or the public” but does not provide clear guidelines about how such measures will be enforced.

Landlords should be permitted to prohibit cultivation

In Nova Scotia, landlords have lobbied to ensure they can prevent cultivation in rental units. The Committee’s report recommends “affirming that landlords are free to prohibit the cultivation of recreational cannabis”.

Home cultivation should not be permitted in all residences

The Report also recommends that New Brunswick depart from the Cannabis Act with respect to the types of households where cultivation can take place. The Report recommends that cultivation should not be permitted to take place in a shared living spaces such as a university residence building.

The Cannabis Act, provides that an individual who “is 18 years of age or older” may “cultivate, propagate or harvest” or offer to “cultivate, propagate or harvest” not more than “four cannabis plants at any one time in their dwelling house.

The definition of “dwelling-house” in the Cannabis Act is broad and would normally include any part of a building being occupied as a residence:

dwelling-house means the whole or any part of a building or structure that is kept or occupied as a permanent or temporary residence, and includes

(a) a building within the curtilage of a dwelling-house that is connected to it by a doorway or by a covered and enclosed passage-way, and

(b) a unit that is designed to be mobile and to be used as a permanent or temporary residence and that is being used as such a residence; (maison d’habitation)

The Report, however, suggests defining “household” for the purposes of home cultivation, as “a housing unit that has bathing and kitchen facilities (and therefore excludes a room in a rooming house or in a university residence building or other shared living spaces)”.

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