It all began with a Mandate letter sent on November 15, 2015 from Justin Trudeau to Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould. Justin Trudeau asked the Minister of Justice to begin “working with the Ministers of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and Health, to create a federal-provincial-territorial process that will lead to the legalization and regulation of marijuana.”
Marijuana legalization across Canada is now slated for July 1, 2018 and Albertans, of legal age, will be permitted to purchase, grow, consume and possess marijuana.
Legal Age and Purchasing
The legal minimum age for the purchase and consumption of cannabis will align with Alberta’s legal smoking and drinking age, which is 18 years of age. Purchasers will be required to show government issued photo ID if they appear to be under the age of 25. Minors will not be permitted to purchase cannabis or be on licensed premises.
As with smoking, federal restrictions will be implemented on the advertising and promotion of marijuana, especially to minors. The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission will manage the wholesale and distribution and all licensed growers will be strictly monitored and regulated by the federal government. Albertans will have 2 options to purchase legal marijuana: It will available for purchase through privately run retail stores, which will be strictly monitored and will receive their products from a government regulated distributor. The staff will be required to complete training on educating customers on the risks associated with the use of marijuana as well as the potency of the various products. Retail outlets will not be permitted to allow the consumption of cannabis on their premises. Or it will be available for purchase online through government regulated sites.
Marijuana consumption will be restricted in public places where smoking is prohibited as well as in areas that are frequented by children such as:
- Hospital property, school property and/or childcare facility property.
- Skate/bike parks
- Sports fields
- Outdoor pools/splash pads
- Outdoor theatres
Canadians will be permitted to consume marijuana in their private homes but use will prohibited in vehicles.
Adults will permitted to grow up to 4 marijuana plants per household with seeds that are purchased from a licensed cannabis distributor/retailer. However, people living in condos, multi-family dwellings and renters may be restricted from growing their own cannabis due to rules in individual rental agreements or condo bylaws.
Adults over the legal age will be permitted to possess up to 30 grams of marijuana in a public place in Alberta. As with alcohol, when transporting marijuana in a vehicle, it will be required to be in closed packaging and not within reach of the driver or other vehicle occupants. Youth will not be permitted to possess cannabis and any youth caught in possession of more than 5 grams will be subject to criminal charges under federal legislation. If a youth is caught with less than 5 grams of cannabis in their possession they will be subject to the seizure of the cannabis, notification of their parents/guardians, and similar penalties to those for underage possession of alcohol or tobacco.
The province of Alberta has begun to address the legislative changes that will come into play once legalization occurs.
On Tuesday November 14, 2017, after introducing Bill 29 (“An Act to Reduce Cannabis and Alcohol Impaired Driving”), the Transportation Minister, Brian Mason, stated that “Impaired driving due to alcohol, cannabis or any other impairing drug or combination of drugs, is the leading criminal cause of death and injury in Canada. These tragedies are entirely avoidable. Alberta’s impaired driving laws aim to reduce the number of impaired drivers on our roads, encourage safe driving behaviour and strongly discourage impaired driving.” If Bill 29 is passed, it will support Alberta’s efforts to address drug impaired driving as well as establish a zero tolerance for impairment for people with graduated (new) driver’s licenses.
Changes to the Traffic Safety Act would also be implemented including zero tolerance for drivers in the Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program. It would also include provincial sanctions for drivers exceeding the legal blood-drug concentration (BDC) limits for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) outlined in the regulations of the Criminal Code of Canada. Penalties would include:
- Immediate license suspension
- Vehicle seizure
- Monetary Fines
- Remedial education
Potential Workplace Hazards
The legalization of marijuana will inevitably create additional workplace safety hazards including impairment such as impaired driving, impaired workers and addiction issues. Employers will need to be increasingly aware of these issues and ensuring their workers are fit for work.
For more information on hazard awareness and how to mitigate these and other health and safety hazards please call us at Safety Ahead and we would be more than happy to answer all your questions! Stay safe!