Cannabis Policy, Legislation and Regulation

The Government of Prince Edward Island has an obligation and an opportunity to actively shape the implementation of the federal decision to legalize cannabis in a way that balances the challenges presented by legalization as well as Islanders’ interests, circumstances and values. To do this, provincial government is assessing the implications of legalization, exploring regional opportunities, gathering research, and listening to Islanders' views.

Federal legislation

The Government of Canada has introduced legislation to legalize, regulate and restrict access to cannabis – Bill C-45 Cannabis Act and Bill C-46 An Act to amend the Criminal Code. This legislation will make cannabis legal in Canada by July 2018. 

The federal legislation, along with strict regulations, would:

  • allow adults to possess up to 30 grams of legally-produced cannabis;
  • allow adults to grow up to four cannabis plants per household;
  • set the minimum age for purchase and use at 18 years of age, with the option for provinces to increase the age limit;
  • enable a regulatory regime for the licensed production of cannabis, which would be controlled by the federal government;
  • enable a regulatory regime for the distribution and sale of cannabis, which would be controlled by the provincial government; and
  • establish new provisions to address drug-impaired driving, as well as making several changes to the overall legal framework to address alcohol impaired driving.

Provincial legislation

In legalizing and regulating cannabis, the Government of Prince Edward Island is focused on keeping cannabis out of the hands of youth, protecting public health and keeping our roads safe, while aiming to eliminate the illegal cannabis market.

Work is underway to review options for a PEI approach to cannabis legalization using input from Islanders and local stakeholders.  Currently, provincial policy direction includes:

  • Legal age: the legal age for cannabis use will be age 19, aligned with the province's legal age for alcohol and tobacco
  • Public consumption: cannabis use will be restricted to private residences, with a potential for expansion to designated public spaces at a later date, to help limit its impact on communities and public health;
  • Adult possession: adults will be allowed to publicly possess 30 grams of lawful dried cannabis or equivalent, which aligns with the federal legislation;
  • Youth possession: youth under 19 will be prohibited from possessing cannabis. The province's approach to protecting youth will focus on prevention, diversion, and harm reduction, without unnecessarily bringing them into contact with the justice system.
  • Drug-impaired driving: the province will strengthen roadside suspension and create a summary offense in cases of impaired driving with a minor, with potential for increasing penalties in the future.
  • Transporting: when transporting cannabis, it must remain in unopened packaging and, where an open package is being transported the product will be required to be secure and inaccessible to anyone in the vehicle.
  • Education: public health and safety campaigns for cannabis are already underway and will intensify as legalization approaches. In addition, the province will support youth, young adults and all Islanders by developing educational and harm-reduction strategies. The approach will include education, health, and social service providers that work with – and educate – Islanders.
  • Retail model: Prince Edward Island will have four dedicated government-owned retail locations for cannabis sales in 2018, as well as an e-commerce platform with direct-to-home delivery.  The retail sites will be in Charlottetown, Summerside, Montague, and West Prince.
  • Suppliers: The province is entering into agreements with three companies to supply legal and regulated product:
    • Canada’s Island Garden of Charlottetown;
    • OrganiGram of Moncton, NB; and
    • Canopy Growth Corporation of Smith Falls, ON

These policy directions are significant steps in the cannabis legalization framework for Prince Edward Island. There are additional decisions to come related to personal cultivation, ticketing offences, and other topics which require legislative or regulatory direction.

Jurisdictional responsibilities for the legalization of cannabis

The following table outlines the initial divisions of responsibility expected as the federal and provincial acts come into force. Municipalities will have shared authority in some of the areas outlined below:

Activity
Federal responsibility?
Provincial responsibility?
Possession limits**
Yes
No
Trafficking
Yes
No
Advertisement and packaging**
Yes
No
Impaired driving
Yes
Yes
Medical cannabis
Yes
No
Seed-to-sale tracking system
Yes
No
Production (cultivation and processing)
Yes
No
Age limit (federal minimum)**
Yes
No
Public health
Yes
Yes
Education
Yes
Yes
Taxation
Yes
Yes
Home cultivation (growing plants at home)**
Yes
No
Distribution and wholesaling
No
Yes
Retail model
No
Yes
Retail locations and rules No Yes
Regulatory compliance Yes Yes
Public consumption No Yes
Land use and/or zoning No Yes
** Provinces will have the ability to strengthen legislation for these areas under federal jurisdiction

Cannabis legalization timeline

June 2017: Provincial cannabis committee formed, co-led by the departments of Justice and Public Safety and Health and Wellness.

September 2017: Public survey conducted

Fall 2017: Gathered research, worked with stakeholders, and reviewed options. Consultation results released.

Winter 2017: Provincial cannabis policy decisions will be released, followed by continued consultation with partners on legislation and enforcement.

Winter to spring 2018: Draft and present provincial legislative changes related to cannabis to the PEI Legislative Assembly and launch a public education campaign.

July 2018: Implement requirements to enable cannabis legislation

July 2019: Implement legislation for edibles

Going Forward

The federal government will maintain its responsibility for licensing and regulating cannabis producers, expanding on its current role with medical cannabis. The province may choose to explore economic development opportunities related to cannabis production.

The Government of Prince Edward Island is developing a framework to support the legalization of cannabis in Prince Edward Island, while making efforts to address the concerns raised by survey respondents and partner organizations.

Government has made a number of key policy decisions related to cannabis legalization.

Legal age

The legal age for cannabis use will be age 19, aligned with our legal age for alcohol and tobacco.

Retail model

To align with government’s focus on getting rid of the illegal market for cannabis and keeping cannabis out of the hands of children, cannabis will be sold in dedicated government-owned retail locations.

The province will be issuing an RFP seeking retail location site in Charlottetown, Summerside, Montague and West Prince for 2018.

These four locations, chosen based on population density, will allow the province to gauge sales in different areas of the province, and plan for future expansion if needed.

Safeguards are being put in place to ensure that locations are reasonable and appropriate, so that they are a respectful distance for schools, that they have the necessary security elements, ventilation systems and that they meet all of the requirements as laid out in the RFP.

The e-commerce platform is also being developed with direct-to-home delivery, which will provide all islanders with access to recreational cannabis should they not have a retail store in their community.

Public consumption

To prevent exposure to secondhand cannabis smoke and the normalization of cannabis smoking, public consumption of cannabis will be restrict to private residences, with potential for designated spaces.

To address public health and safety concerns, a comprehensive public awareness campaign will be launched in January 2018.

Over the coming months, the Government of Prince Edward Island will continue engagement with municipalities, Indigenous communities, employers, and other partners on additional cannabis policy decisions, along with details related to keeping impaired drivers off Island roads, supporting safe workplaces, as well as implementing and enforcing cannabis legislation.

Possession

Prince Edward Island will align adult personal possession amounts with federal legislation to permit 30 g of lawful dried cannabis or equivalent in public and no restrictions in personal residences at this time, and enable regulation making authority to consider in-home possession limits.

To protect our young people, the province will prohibit individuals under age 19 from possessing or consuming recreational cannabis, which will allow police to confiscate cannabis from young people. The province's approach to protecting youth will focus on prevention, diversion, and harm reduction without unnecessarily bringing them into contact with the justice system. The province will implement a diversion first model with graduated penalties, similar to alcohol, for circumstances where offences occur repeatedly or other offences occur concurrently.

Drug Impaired Driving

When it comes to driving, our key objective is to strengthen impaired driving provisions and deter people from consuming drugs and driving. Drivers who have used cannabis are up to six times more likely to get into a motor vehicle collision than drivers who are not impaired.

Prince Edward Island will take an incremental approach to aligning with the federal amendments to impaired driving provisions, mirroring the current alcohol-impaired driving regime and maintaining current roadside suspension penalties. Further, a summary offence in cases of impaired driving with a minor will be created.

Transporting

Prince Edward Island will also place restrictions on the transportation of cannabis in motorized vehicles, including off-road vehicles, and vessels.  Similar to alcohol regulations, purchased cannabis must be transported in either the unopened packaging it is purchased in or, where an open package is being transported, the product must be secure and inaccessible to anyone in the vehicle

It is expected that these measures will assist in promoting social norms around safe and responsible possession and transport of cannabis.

Harm Reduction and Education

The province will support youth, young adults and all Islanders through the development of education and harm reduction strategies.

Suppliers

The province is entering into MOU agreements with three companies to supply legal and regulated product:

  • Canada’s Island Garden located in Charlottetown, PEI;
  • OrganiGram of Moncton, NB; and
  • Canopy Growth Corporation of Smith Falls, ON

Contact:

Provincial cannabis committee
Email: cannabis@gov.pe.ca

 

Published date: 
January 26, 2018