Below is # 1 of a 4 part series of stories being released by the RCMP on the legalization of cannibis. We have not edited the information.
The two edged sword of legalized Cannabis. Part 1 of 4
“It’s legal!” How many times haven’t you heard that in the past 5 weeks?
Yes, in many ways cannabis has been legalized which makes many very happy. But many of the general public are unaware of the other side of the legalization sword. This article is an attempt to help bring some clarity to those who are not sure what the full ramifications of legalized cannabis looks like as it impacts youth, those under the age of 19 in BC.
Many of teens are excited about the legalization of cannabis but what they may not know of understand is that nothing has changed for those who are 18 and under… cannabis is still illegal. And just because it is legal doesn’t mean it doesn’t impact those who are using it, especially developing teens.
There are two pieces of legislation at play, the BC Cannabis Control and Licensing Act as well as the Federal Cannabis Act. Both have been put in place to protect children and youth and to promote health and safety for all who chose to possess and consume cannabis. To enforce the protection of youth and their physical and mental wellbeing, police and courts across Canada have been provided new powers to issues fines and jail terms that previously did not exist.
Previously, if a youth was found with a very small amount of cannabis, regardless of age, one way for police to deal with it was what was called a No Case Seizure. In this instance, police would seize the cannabis and have it destroyed locally; done. But now under the new cannabis legislation, police have the power to issues tickets that previously did not exist. For example:
If a 17 year old is found smoking at a skate park with even a single joint, police can still seize the cannabis but they can also issue a $230 ticket for a minor possessing cannabis.
Let’s say that same 17 has a 19 year old friend and quickly hands that lit joint to his buddy… that 19 year old can have the cannabis seized and be issued a $230 ticket for smoking cannabis in a public place. The reason they can have the cannabis seized is because it is considered illicit cannabis and a person is prohibited from possessing any illicit cannabis CCLA, Sec. 77.
What makes it not illicit cannabis? Legal cannabis must be produced, packaged by government approved agencies and sold from a government dispensary and be in the original packaging which must be unopened when transporting it unless it is inaccessible during transport (more on that next time).
What does it mean for youth drivers? When it comes to youth drivers and the legalization of cannabis, youth have had an automatic addition to their driving restrictions if they are on a graduated licencing program if they have an “L” or an “N”. As of October 17, 2018 they have a restriction similar to Alcohol which is to have a 0 blood drug content (BDC). An additional ticket can be issued under the Motor Vehicle Act for Drive contrary to Restriction or $109.
Even once there is a locally approved government distribution outlet, minors (anyone under 19 in BC) can be issued similar tickets for entering or being in a government cannabis store. Minors can be issued $230 tickets for purchasing, producing, possessing, supplying or selling cannabis.
The Federal Cannabis Act has several additional measures in place to help prevent youth from accessing cannabis including age restrictions and restricting promotion of cannabis. There are two new criminal offences to enforce that no person may sell or provide cannabis to any youth under the age of 18 with maximum penalties of 14 years in jail. These include giving or selling cannabis to youth and using a youth to commit a cannabis related offence.
There is a lot of information and changes as a result of the new legalization of cannabis. The best suggestions the RCMP can give you is that you do your research on what is actually legal and what`s not and the penalties associated to them. Make wise decisions and protect yourself and youth you may know.
For more information check out https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-medication/cannabis/laws-regulations.html
Cst. Chad Neustaeter
Media Relations Officer
Fort St John RCMP
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