VICTORIA — The British Columbia government has set 19 as the minimum age to legally possess, purchase and consume marijuana in the province.
The age for consumption is consistent with alcohol and tobacco regulations, and with the age of majority, Solicitor General Mike Farnworth said in a news release Tuesday.
Retail sales of recreational marijuana will be permitted through public and private stores with more details to be released next year. The wholesale distribution system will also be similar to alcohol as the government's liquor distribution branch will act as the supplier.
Farnworth said the government wants to protect young people, make health and safety a priority, keep criminals out of the industry and maintain road safety.
Almost 50,000 residents and 141 local and Indigenous governments made submissions during a provincial government consultation period ahead of the federal government's legalization of non-medical cannabis in July.
"We will continue to consider your opinions as we further develop policy and legislation that is in the best interests of this province, ensuring a made-in-B.C. approach to the legalization of non-medical cannabis," Farnworth said.
A report released along with the government announcement says many people expressed concern about the impact of cannabis on brain development for those under 25.
"There were also concerns that the younger a person starts using cannabis, the greater the risk for negative health and social outcomes," the report says. "Many of those who commented advocated for public awareness initiatives to educate youth, young adults and parents about the potential impacts of cannabis use on the developing brain."
There were polarized views on drug-impaired driving. Some want zero tolerance while others said cannabis doesn't impact the ability to drive, the report says.
It says there was some confusion among those who commented during the consultation on the distribution and retails sales of marijuana, but it says "many explicitly" opposed Ontario's model for distribution and retail.
"Most of these individuals preferred to see the existing dispensaries and their supply chain legitimized, licensed and regulated," it says.
Ontario intends to sell the drug in up to 150 stores run by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario.
The report says two points emerged on public consumption: people don't want to be subjected to second-hand cannabis smoke in public places and they want cannabis consumption limited to indoor use at a private residence or a designated consumption space.
The B.C. regulations come after most other provinces and territories have released their plans on the sale, distribution and consumption of marijuana.
Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press
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