On November 9, 2017, the Province of New Brunswick tabled three new pieces of legislation to set the framework for the use of recreational cannabis in the Province:
Bill-16, Cannabis Control Act
The Bill has officially set the minimum age at 19. No person under the minimum age shall possess cannabis and those above the minimum age may possess up to 30 grams of cannabis. Under the proposed legislation, users of recreational cannabis will be restricted from using it in public and may be used in private places only. Vehicles are strictly prohibited under the legislation.
When storing cannabis at home, it will have to be kept in a locked container or separate locked room in an effort to keep it away from minors. Grow-your-own must also be secured according to the legislation, whether or not cannabis is grown in or outside. Early criticism of the proposed legislation has focused on the locked container requirement. Many believe it would be impossible to enforce or police this aspect of the legislation.
The Bill has outlined inspections, offences and penalties. The Minister is given authority under the Bill to appoint inspectors. Those inspectors will be able to enter and inspect any place, area, or vehicle to which the proposed Act applies (except a private dwelling) to make any examinations or inquiries and conduct any tests that the inspector considers necessary or advisable, which are relatively broad powers.
The Bill also provides guidelines for retail sales of cannabis and references the Cannabis Management Corporation (discussed below). The Corporation will be responsible for overseeing the retail environment.
This Bill crystallizes the retail structure that the Government announced in late October. As a refresher, retail stores will be highly regulated and the idea is that they will provide a supportive and consultative experience. The stores, which will be approximately 2,500 square feet, will have a reception area where IDs will be checked. No one under the legal age will be allowed on the premises, even if accompanied by an adult. The products will be displayed under glass cases and will require a trained salesperson to retrieve. This is very structured and markedly different than the self-serve model used for alcohol in the Province.
Bill-17, Cannabis Management Corporation Act
Bill 17 establishes the Cannabis Management Corporation (the “Corporation”) and gives it the authority to contract as an agent of the Crown. The Act also sets up the Board of Directors who will govern the Corporation and will be made up of the Deputy Minister of Finance, Deputy Minister of Health, Deputy Minister of Justice and Public Safety and no more than four senior civil servants, one of whom will be responsible for the economic development of the Corporation.
The Board may make by-laws for control and management of the business and affairs of the Corporation under the Bill. Under the Bill the Lieutenant-Governor in Council may also make regulations with respect to a variety of things.
Bill-18, Cannabis Education and Awareness Fund Act
Bill 18 will establish the Cannabis Education and Awareness Fund (the “Fund”), which will be made in accordance with the Cannabis Management Corporation Act.
The assets of the Fund will be used for funding education and awareness programs related to cannabis including programs concerning the prevention of cannabis abuse, the responsible use of cannabis, and strategies for the reduction of the adverse health effects of cannabis. The Fund will also go towards development and implementation of policies and programs relating to responsible cannabis consumption and funding research projects regarding cannabis and consumption.
An advisory committee will be established to advise on matters relating to the use of the assets of the Fund. The seven person advisory committee will consists of the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Cannabis Management Corporation who will also act as Chair of the advisory committee, plus the chief medical officer of health, two senior civil servants, and three representatives of non-governmental organizations with an interest in how the assets of the Fund are used.