Newfoundland’s new Cannabis Control Act has established driving penalties as well as fines for underage and public use in preparation for the federal legalization of marijuana slated for Summer of 2018.
“We’re making great progress and will be ready for whatever date is set,” said Justice Minister Andrew Parsons during his announcement regarding of the Act and the changes to existing and related legislation like the Highway Traffic Act, the Smoke-Free Environment Act, and the Liquor Control Act.
“The legalization of cannabis for recreational use is one of the most significant policy shifts for Canada since we joined Confederation…[it’s] a different kind of product from others we’ve regulated…[and] we must treat it in a similar fashion to alcohol given its capacity to impair, but we must also treat it like cigarettes that can be smoked or vaped and can affect people secondhand.” Finance Minister Tom Osborne
The Cannabis Control Act will be reviewed every five years, at the minimum, to reflect the new and changing reality of legal recreational cannabis.
“We know that we’ll need to be nimble in our legislative response,” says Osborne, “so that we have the flexibility to respond to issues as they arise in this new industry.”
Changes to the Highway Traffic Act
Public consumption of marijuana will be subject to fines between $50 and $500. Consumption of cannabis in a vehicle will incur fines between $300 and $10,000.
For novice drivers, commercial drivers, and drivers under the age of 22, there will be a zero tolerance policy in place for impaired driving.
Some exemptions have been made for those with medical prescriptions for cannabis, except while driving impaired.
Considering there is currently no approved roadside screening test for marijuana impairment, drug impairment is measured by field sobriety testing and administered by police officers, and urine and blood are only tested after the face if the driver is suspected of impairment. Results of these tests could take up to six months to be determined.
The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and the RCMP are training their officers in advance of the legalization.
Rules on Possession of Cannabis and/or Cannabis Plants
Newfoundland and Labrador have set limits on how much marijuana people can possess at one time, whether in a public place or in the home. In public, one person will be limited to 30 grams of cannabis, or a flowering or budding cannabis plant, and may have up to four cannabis plants in their home. Up to 30 grams of the drug can be shared, but this cannabis must be purchased from an NLC-authorized producer and sold in approved containers.
Licenses must be obtained to sell the drug, with an upper limit of 30 grams per sale. For possession of 30 to 50 grams, the fine will be $200. Those under the age of 19 will not be allowed to enter or be employed by marijuana stores, and will not be permitted to buy or sell cannabis or cannabis accessories. If a youth is found in possession of cannabis, the fine will be $100, and if an adult sells marijuana to an underage person, they will face a fine of $500 to $100,000, and up to two years in jail. Currently, Newfoundland has not set pricing information for the sale of marijuana.