For New Brunswickers looking forward to the legalization of non-medical cannabis starting October 17, 2018, the government’s legislation is a mixed bag.
On the restrictive side, there is no public smoking, and home growers have to cultivate their plants and store their stash in locked enclosures.
However, when models were unveiled of the 20 government shops planned to open when legalization arrives, they were sleek, bright, and upscale with modern color palettes. Additionally, about 250 products will be available, and different categories of sativa, indica and hybrids will be organized, and described in brochures, depending on the experience you want.
To prepare for legalization, the government formed a working group whose report helped explain and guide the process.In passing the new legislation, the Assembly considered three new acts and two amendments of existing acts.
The Cannabis Control Act governs consumption and use, while the Cannabis Management Corporation Act sets up a governmental crown corporation, which will oversee and control the retail sale of recreational marijuana.
Other measures create an education and awareness fund, amend the province’s liquor corporation’s powers, and add drug-impaired driving amendments to its Motor Vehicle Act.
Included in the vehicle amendments is a “zero-tolerance” policy for new drivers in the graduated license program and all drivers younger than 21. The new vehicle laws also apply to motorcycles, tractors, off-road vehicles, and snowmobiles on highways and managed trails. Limited exceptions may be made for medical marijuana operators if they are not found to be impaired.
Police can also suspend licenses or impound vehicles. Other administrative sanctions and driver education may also be imposed.
Under federal guidelines, drivers face graduated penalties depending on levels of drug or alcohol concentrations, as well as previous offenses.
Federally, the legal limit for THC in the bloodstream is two nanograms per milliliter. A nanogram is one-billionth of a gram. Concentrations between two (2) and five (5) nanograms result in a fine up to $1,000. Concentrations of 5 or more nanograms will result in a $1,000 minimum fine for a first offense, imprisonment of 30 days or more for a second offense, and imprisonment of 120 days or more for a third offense. Penalties for drug-impaired driving accidents can range from 18 months to as much as life imprisonment for a fatal crash.
Where is it safe to purchase weed in New Brunswick?
When legalization takes effect, the only place to purchase non-medical cannabis will through the government’s Cannabis NB, a crown subsidiary of the New Brunswick Liquor Corporation.
The province plans to have 20 stores opened by Oct. 17, 2018.
Online sales will be available from the Cannabis NB website, that is being created. It will only be delivered within New Brunswick and customers must be at least 19 years old to order or receive cannabis.
The stores will be stand-alone dispensaries with only cannabis and related products available. No one younger than 19 will be allowed inside and customers must show proof of age. Products and displays will not be visible from the street.
Stores will be located away from schools and areas frequented by minors.
Customers are permitted to buy a maximum of 30 grams, or 1.06 ounces of dried cannabis at one time, or equivalents in fresh cannabis and cannabis oils. Also cannabis accessories. There will be about 250 products available in the stores. Premade edibles and extract will not be available until one year after the legislation is passed. At that time, stores would carry about 800 products.
Employees will be required to take extensive three (3)-week programs on products to help customers understand potency and effects.
Where is it safe to consume cannabis?
Smoking will not be allowed in public places, and cannabis was added by the government to banned substances in its Smoke-free Places Act. It will be allowed in private residences and adjacent property. Smoking and growing are allowed in rentals, unless prohibited by lease or property agreements. Landlords cannot restrict the use of non-smoked cannabis.
It is illegal to consume cannabis while operating an on-road or off-road vehicle for either drivers or passengers. The law applies regardless of whether the vehicle is in motion. In a vehicle, cannabis must be stored in a sealed container that is not accessible the driver or passengers during transport to.
The minimum legal age to buy or possess cannabis in New Brunswick is 19. The province allows possession by adults of up to 30 grams, or 1.06 ounces, of cannabis in most public places.
The national government has set equivalencies for one (1) gram of dried cannabis to equal:
- five (5) grams of fresh cannabis
- 15 grams, or one-half ounce (0.5 oz) of edibles
- 70 milliliters, or 2.35 fluid ounces, of liquid
- 0.25 grams of concentrate, and
- one (1) plant seed
There is no limit for home possession.
Individuals younger than 19 cannot possess non-medical cannabis. Minors with less than five (5) grams will have the marijuana seized, face fines, and their parents or guardians may be notified. Minors with amounts in excess of five (5) grams face criminal prosecution under federal law.
By federal law, patients using medical marijuana are allowed to have up to 150 grams, or 5.3 ounces — 30 times the daily dose prescribed by an authorized health-care practitioner, either an authorized physician or nurse practitioner — of dried marijuana or its equivalent.
Is home cultivation allowed in New Brunswick?
New Brunswick allows homeowners to grow up to four (4) plants on their property. Indoor plants must be in a secure, locked space. Outdoor plants must be in a locked container that is a height of 1.52 meters, or about 4 feet.
These regulations do not apply for approved and licensed home-grown medical marijuana, which is governed by national laws.
Medical marijuana in New Brunswick
Thousands of Canadians are federally licensed to possess and use medical marijuana. Until the new law is passed, Canadians must the qualify for the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR), which came into effect August 24, 2016.
Recipients must provide medical documentation confirming the diagnosis by a health-care practitioner.
Patients must not be convicted of a marijuana-related offense and be registered only once at a time.
Generally, patients can qualify for medical marijuana under two categories. One is to allow for compassionate end-of-life care, for alleviating pain symptoms relating to illnesses and injuries, or for side effects from cancer or HIV/AIDS medications. The second category is for patients suffering from other persistent debilitating symptoms. Among the ailments Health Canada lists as possibly qualifying are:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Attention-deficit and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorders (ADD/ADHD)
- Back and neck conditions
- Brain injury
- Chronic nausea
- Chronic pain
- Eating disorders
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Crohn’s disease
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Hepatitis C
- Kidney failure, including patients receiving dialysis
- Multiple sclerosis
- Muscle spasms
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Parkinson’s disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Severe arthritis
- Sexual dysfunction
- Sleep disorders
- Vehicular crashes
Information on eligibility and applying is available at the Canadian government’s medical marijuana website.
Authorized caregivers are allowed to possess fresh or dried marijuana or cannabis oil, and may transfer or administer the substances or provide a medical document. They may also transfer substances to an individual who is responsible for the patient under their professional treatment.
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