The Framework for Legal Cannabis has been Released
After previously announcing they would be allowing 60 non-medicinal cannabis retailers province-wide, only 51 will be opening, after municipalities were allowed to opt out. the Province has officially released its cannabis framework.
The framework was used to set the rules and regulations regarding legal cannabis use once recreational use is legalized. The legalization of cannabis was announced to begin on July, by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the exact date is yet to be determined though, after a deal was brokered to allow the Senate to study and potentially make changes to the legislation. Here are some highlights.
The legal age to possess and use cannabis in Saskatchewan will be the same as it is with alcohol, 19. The federal government age limit is 18 with possession of five grams or more considered a criminal offence and dealt with under the Youth Justice Act.
Retail outlets will also be required to ask all customers for identification, no minors are allowed inside the retail outlets, all employees must be of legal age and all staff will have to undergo training to provide information and other requirements similar to the "Serve It Right" training for employees of licensed establishments.
Purchases will be limited to 30 grams of dried cannabis or equivalent in edibles and other allowed products.
There will be 51 retailers allowed during the early sales period or three years. Following the three years, a thorough review will be conducted.
The wholesale and retail cannabis network will be privately owned but tightly regulated by the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA). The SLGA was to establish a lottery system and other rules for awarding the retail outlet licenses with the help of a third party consultant.
A two-phase selection process will be used to determine the retail operators in each community. The process (Phase One) will involve screening for demonstrated financial capacity and the ability to track and report inventory movement through the supply chain.
In Phase Two all applicants who pass Phase One will be entered in a lottery with the retail selected in a random draw.
The detailed Request for Proposal (RFP) documents related to the retail selection process are available on www.SaskTenders.ca.
Individuals may not purchase from a wholesaler, they may only purchase at retailers.
Smoking or consuming cannabis in a motor vehicle will be illegal. Cannabis purchases will be the same as alcohol where it may only be transported from a place where it is legal to buy to a place legal to consume.
Smoking cannabis in a public place will be illegal the same as it is for tobacco smoking.
Municipalities can further restrict cannabis smoking under bylaws. Presently, Moose Jaw has a tabled smoking bylaw which proposed expanding anti-smoking provisions to public spaces such as public parks, restaurant and bar patios. The proposed bylaw would also extend the anti-tobacco smoking bylaw to cover cannabis, vaping and hookahs. In plain English if the bylaw prohibits tobacco smoking it would likewise apply to cannabis smoking.
Municipalities may also establish zoning bylaws to regulate where cannabis retailers may conduct business.
When Council unanimously decided not to oppose the province authorizing licensing of cannabis retailers, Mayor Frasier Tolmie indicated the likelihood that Council would regulate where the retailers would be allowed to set up shop.
Mayor Tolmie stated that it was not up to Council to interfere with what adults do with legal products in their own homes, just in public spaces. He indicated that zoning was likely coming to regulate retailers away from schools, day cares, youth centres and drug treatment facilities were some areas where zoning would disallow retailers.
The Province will not allow consumption at schools or childcare centres.
It needs to be noted that under the present federal rules being debated before the Senate, cannabis sales in or near schools will not be allowed.
Additionally, the Province will be changing the Residential Tenancy Act to allow landlords to set rules to disallow all tenants from possessing, using, growing or selling cannabis in any rental unit.
The Province will also be allowing each household to possess four cannabis plants, as per the present law before the Senate.
Taxation will be set in a balance to earn revenues but at the same time discourage black market or illicit drug dealer sales. Medical cannabis and recreational cannabis will both be taxed.
The Province will receive 75 percent of the excise tax. There is still no word as to how much, if any, municipalities will receive from the Province.
During a presentation of the Moose Jaw Police Service budget Chief Rick Bourassa said there would be costs associated with cannabis legalization. Media reports indicate the Province will not be providing funding to municipalities to pay for any additional policing costs coming from cannabis legalization.
As with alcohol, there will be Criminal Code violations for impairment, plus administrative penalties the Province will enact for driving while under the influence of cannabis. A new machine will be used to swab a person's mouth to detect for THC (the active drug in cannabis) and depending on the level detected, could cause administrative action (license suspensions etc...) or a demand to provide a blood sample or submit to a drug recognition evaluation test.
Also, Criminal Code and administrative penalties will exist for lower levels of blood alcohol and THC in the bloodstream if an individual is partaking in both. There will be zero tolerance levels of THC for new drivers and drivers under 21.
Job safety concerns will also be addressed through existing Occupational Health and Safety regulations which prohibit workplace impairment.
Until the Federal Government legalizes recreational cannabis, its use and sale remains illegal, the release warned.