Security guard out front the first B.C. Cannabis Store in Kamloops ahead of Wednesday’s legalization. (Ian Mitchell/Twitter)

Puff, puff, pass: Cannabis is officially legal across Canada

B.C. has only one bricks-and-mortar marijuana store

It’s promising to be a chill day across the country, as Canadians wake up to the first day of legal pot.

But although Ottawa gave the a-okay to light up a joint starting Oct. 17, there’s only one place you can buy pot today: the BC Cannabis Store in Kamloops.

Although 173 dispensaries have applied for licences to sell marijuana, the 62 approved by the province have yet to receive local approval.

People line up for a BC Cannabis Store hiring fair in Kamloops this July. (Kamloops this Week)

Some cities, like Richmond and Osoyoos, have indicated that they won’t be licensing any stores. This has left dispensaries currently operating illegal having to make a decision on whether to remain open and risk their license being rejected, or close up shop.

READ MORE: B.C.’s marijuana stores should shut down, Mike Farnworth says

For those that don’t live in Kamloops, but are ready to explore legal cannabis, they can purchase marijuana through the province’s BC Cannabis Store website. While 150 strains of leaf will be available online and in-store, edibles will remain illegal for at least a year.

Policing legal cannabis impacts

Speaking ahead of legalization, the head of Canada’s police chiefs, Adam Palmer, said that there were “no big raids or anything planned” at unlicensed pot shops across the country.

Palmer, who also heads up the Vancouver Police Department, noted that police priorities on marijuana will stay largely the same.

READ MORE: ‘Police are ready’ for legal pot, say Canadian chiefs

READ MORE: 14% of people admit to driving after smoking pot: Stats Canada

“It’s important to remember that while the legal recreational use of cannabis will new to Canadians, enforcing laws around impaired driving and the illegal production, distribution and consumption of cannabis will not be new to police,” Palmer told reporters Monday.

“It’s good to have a clear direction… but in the scheme of things, marijuana is important but it is not the most important thing going on in the country. Fentanyl kills a lot of people… marijuana doesn’t.”

READ MORE: Could cannabis help keep people in B.C. on treatment for opioid addiction?

Police will continue enforcing impaired driving rules via traffic stops and CounterAttack campaigns. (Delta Police)

Although driving impaired is already illegal, the province has brought in a new 90-day administrative driving prohibition (ADP) for any drivers who police think are driving while high.

READ MORE: After 10 years of fighting drunk drivers, Alexa’s Team asks: What about pot?

READ MORE: Vancouver, Delta police won’t use new saliva test to detect high drivers

Police can test for impairment either by using the standard field sobriety test or the newly-approved roadside saliva test: the Drager DrugTest 5000.

Drivers with too much THC in their blood could net a fine of at least $1,000 and spend up to five years in jail for repeated offences.

Taking a toke: where and when

People will be able grow up to four pot plants at their home, as long as it’s not being used as a daycare and the plants can’t be seen from outside.

Many strata and apartments have imposed their own rules about whether pot plants can be grown on their property.

People in B.C. will be able to carry up to 30 grams of pot on them. (Unsplash)

You will be able to carry up to 30 grams of marijuana on you in public, as well as smoke outside in most of the same places as tobacco smoking and vaping is allowed.

Pot smoking will be forbidden at playgrounds, sports fields, skate parks and other places where kids are likely to be.

But although smoking in prohibited places is illegal, Palmer said it’s unlikely police officers will be arresting people on the streets.

READ MORE: Smoking legal pot could still get you fined

Minor infractions like smoking illegally will be handled by bylaw officers, he said, while large-scale imports, exports and production will fall to police detachments.

“Nobody’s going to jail for something like that.”

Lighting up will be forbidden near playgrounds or anywhere else that kids usually gather. (Unsplash)

But although smoking illicitly-obtained pot remains against the law, Palmer said, no one is going to be asking pot smokers for receipts.

“If somebody’s walking down the street smoking a cigarette, the police aren’t coming up to them and seeing if that tobacco is purchased at the 7-11 or they purchased it illegally from a tobacco trafficker,” he said.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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