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Client Update: Nova Scotia gives first look at cannabis regulation

Rick Dunlop, Kevin Landry and Justin Song

Following October’s public consultation, which resulted in over 31,000 responses, Nova Scotia has revealed the first hints of its cannabis regulatory regime. While Nova Scotia’s proposed provincial legislation under the Cannabis Act has not yet been released, today’s press release provides insight as to what can be expected moving forward.

What will the Nova Scotia regulatory regime look like?

Home cultivation

Unlike Quebec and Manitoba, Nova Scotia intends to permit adults to grow up to four plants per household, in line with the Cannabis Act.

Age

The legal age to purchase recreational cannabis in Nova Scotia will be 19 – which is in line with the province’s liquor laws. The proposed legal age of 19 is consistent with Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Ontario, British Columbia, and Yukon.

Alberta and Quebec have set the legal age to 18, mirroring their legal age to purchase alcohol. Manitoba has proposed a legal age of 19 and is the only province, so far, that has not mirrored its provincial drinking age (18 in Manitoba).

The remaining provinces – Saskatchewan, PEI, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut – are currently in the process of holding public consultations.

Distribution

The distribution and sale of cannabis will be through the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation (NSLC) both online and in existing NSLC stores.

The government expects to have cannabis available on July 1, 2018 in a number of stores. The NSLC was chosen because of the survey responses which indicated that:

the NSLC allows Nova Scotia to best protect children and youth, and that it made sense to use a crown corporation that already has retail experience and infrastructure. 

Personal possession

In keeping with the federal legislation and the approach taken by other provinces, Nova Scotia will allow adults of legal age to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis. Unlike New Brunswick which requires that cannabis be stored in a locked container or room, Nova Scotia does not intend to require cannabis to be locked up within private homes.

Purchase or possession of cannabis for those under the legal age of 19 will be prohibited. Nova Scotia will implement provincial penalties for youth possession of up to 5 grams. Youth found with less than 5 grams will be subject to seizure of the cannabis, notification of parents or guardians, and fines similar to those for underage possession of alcohol or tobacco.

The federal legislation treats possession of more than 5 grams by those under 18 as a criminal offence. These offences will be prosecuted under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, as is the current process for youth drug offences.

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