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3 Dilemmas with British Columbia’s Marijuana Laws

August 1, 2018

Recently, British Columbia’s marijuana laws were made official after the New Democratic Party passed them with the full support of the Green Party. However there are a few provisions in the new laws that are still too stringent for many B.C. natives and cannabis activists.

Some of the policies implemented will continue to punish cannabis users even though recreational marijuana is fully legal. We’ve highlighted some of the biggest dilemmas included in the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act and ways in which they can be resolved.

Ban on Plants in Public View

The new law stipulates that cannabis users can grow in their home but only if the plant is hidden from public view. This is extremely limiting and virtually forces the majority of home cultivators to grow indoors. The only way to grow marijuana outdoors would be if you had a backyard that was surrounded by high walls or a fence.

If marijuana can be seen from the street and it is reported to the authorities, home growers could face up to three months in jail for the first offence and six months for the second offence. British Columbia’s marijuana laws are making people hide their plants and rewarding intrusive neighbors who think they can patrol for cannabis plants. This could easily be remedied by amending the law and destigmatizing home growers who don’t have the real-estate to cultivate privately.

Landlord Approval for Home Cultivation

British Columbia’s marijuana laws also include another home cultivation deterrent by mandating that landlords must approve of a home grow. The Cannabis Control and Licensing Act actually overrules the Residential Tenancy Act which protected renters from being evicted for growing their plants. It’s understandable that many landlords might have concerns with tenants growing inside their home but to restrict them from growing in their backyards is overstepping their bounds.

The combination of having to hide your plants and seek landlord approval eliminates home cultivation for a large majority of cannabis users. The only way around these provisions is to own your own home. Everyone who wants to grow at home should be allowed to and changing this law to require approval for only indoor cultivation operations with lights will create an even playing field no matter your living situation.

Illicit Cannabis Still Illegal

One of the biggest hindrances of British Columbia’s marijuana laws is that it bans possession of ‘illicit cannabis’ which is defined as anything outside of the legal system. If someone gets busted with illicit cannabis they could face up to 3 months in jail and a maximum of a $5,000 fine. Subsequent offences will double these penalties even though marijuana is technically legal. These consequences are already on the books at the federal level so making them part of provincial law is not only redundant but irresponsible.

To worsen the matter, this law will disproportionately affect minorities and impoverished citizens who are easy targets for police on a power-trip. Whether you purchase cannabis from a marijuana dispensary or buy it from a friend, possessing ‘illicit cannabis’ will result in harsh consequences that stigmatize marijuana and it’s users. B.C. should strike this provision from the record and let authorities at the federal level worry about illicit cannabis possession.