October 16, 2018

Cannabis is now legal in Canada: here’s what that means for your liquor business

Well, it’s finally happening. On October 17, 2018 Canada became the first G7 country to legalize adult-use recreational cannabis. It is a historic day that, for some in this industry, represents the culmination of decades of passionate advocacy.

Regardless of one’s personal opinions on the merits of legalization, this is among the largest and most complex public policy decisions since the end of alcohol prohibition 100 years ago.

As October 17th, comes and goes, it is important to remember that legalization is not a moment but a process. It will take many months – and likely years -before all questions about consumption, public use, impairment, and licensing of this newly legal substance are fully answered. In the meantime, public education and clarity around how we’re transitioning out of the black market will be vitally important.

As your industry advocate, ABLE BC will be at the forefront of these discussions in the days ahead.

As you likely know by now, we will be expanding to accept licensed retailers of cannabis as members. We are also be working to ensure our liquor licensee members are well-prepared for how cannabis may impact your businesses.

You will be hearing from us a lot in the coming weeks, but in the meantime here’s what you need to know for legalization day. 

If you have further questions or need more information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch by email (info@ablebc.ca) or phone (604-688-5560).

What cannabis legalization means for your liquor business

Where can people consume?

In general, the rules for consuming cannabis in public mirror the rules for consuming tobacco. For example, citizens will be free to consume cannabis on public sidewalks, but not on any sidewalk/boulevard adjacent to a school property.

Smoking/vaping is also banned in municipal, regional, and provincial parks, except for designated campsites. You are also not allowed to smoke or vape within six metres of doorways, windows, air intakes of public buildings, bus stops, or bus shelters.

Smoking or vaping is prohibited in vehicles, as well as in indoor public places-except in a designated room at assisted living or retirement facilities or hospitals; or in a hotel room by registered guests (the hotel may choose to prohibit).

For details on where British Columbians may or may not smoke/vape, please click here.

Can customers consume on my licensed patio?

No, it is illegal to consume cannabis on a patio that is open to the public. Even if your patio is licensed to permit tobacco smoking, cannabis consumption remains prohibited.

Do I have to have a designated smoking area for cannabis?

No. Although cannabis is legal, you are under no obligation to allow consumption on your property.

If you already have a smoking area, we strongly recommend you do not allow smoking/vaping of cannabis in this area. It is currently unclear how consumption of cannabis could impact a licensee’s potential liability or duty of care to a patron if you allow them to consume cannabis in your property while you are also serving them alcohol.

For a detailed discussion of this issue, please join us at the BC Liquor Conference on October 29th in Vancouver for Lorne Folick’s presentation, “Recreational Cannabis is Legal – Now what? Strategies to manage cannabis related risks.”

Register now: https://bcliquorconference.com/registration/

If you have a designated smoking area, we recommend posting this sign to clearly indicate smoking or vaping cannabis is strictly prohibited on your property.

Do I need to update my house and employment policies?
Yes, your employment and house policies need to be updated to include cannabis. We will have sample house, employment, and due diligence policies available shortly. If you need further assistance, please contact our office and we can recommend a suitable consultant or attorney.
Also, just because cannabis is legal does not mean your employees are allowed to smoke/vape at work. As with alcohol, you can and should prohibit employees from consuming at work.

Will Serving It Right need to be updated?

Yes. The new version is being launched on October 17th and will incorporate new material covering potential changes to risk and duty of care, as well as information on how to detect visible signs of intoxication from patrons who have consumed cannabis.

Employees are not required to re-certify in SIR, but we recommend that they do. They will have to re-certify in a year or so anyway, and cannabis legalization is a good reason for your team to bone up on the principles of responsible beverage service.

Here to help our members: new training tools and resources from ABLE BC

As your industry advocate, ABLE BC will be at the forefront of these cannabis legalization discussions in the days ahead.

As you likely know by now, we will be expanding to accept licensed retailers of cannabis as members. We are also be working to ensure our liquor licensee members are well-prepared for how cannabis may impact your businesses.

New Resources Now Available
Additional Resources Coming Soon
  • Updated due diligence package and sample house policies
  • Webinar on how cannabis legalization impacts Serving it Right
  • Webinar on due diligence and updating your employment and house policies
If you have further questions or need more information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch by email (info@ablebc.ca) or phone (604-688-5560).


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