In B.C., you'll be able to grow it — but don't show it

If you live in British Columbia, don't put your recreational cannabis plants on public display after legalization. (Mike Deal/Winnipeg Free Press files) (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)

If you live in British Columbia, don't put your recreational cannabis plants on public display after legalization. (Mike Deal/Winnipeg Free Press files)

In the eyes of the province's vocal cannabis activists, there's a lot wrong with British Columbia's Cannabis Control and Licensing Act.

For example, the new law will punish British Columbians caught possessing "illicit cannabis" — that is, weed produced outside the legal market. (Illicit weed is already forbidden under the federal Cannabis Act, so BCers could end up getting slapped twice for puffing on a bootleg joint.)

It will also ban boat passengers from consuming cannabis, to the detriment of those seeking to ease long coastal ferry voyages with an herbal supplement.

But one particular aspect of B.C.'s new law is really sticking in cannabis lovers' craws. Even though British Columbians will be allowed to grow up to four weed plants at home for non-medical purposes, it will be illegal to have those plants visible from a public place.

Violators would face a fine of up to $5,000, three months imprisonment, or both, with penalties doubled for repeat offenders.

To simple journalists like us here at The Leaf News, the specific harms caused by simply seeing a marijuana plant are unclear. So we asked the government of B.C. what it hopes to achieve by keeping a legal plant out of sight.

"This requirement is one of a number of specific provisions designed to protect children and youth from cannabis and promote health and safety and to reduce the risk of unauthorized access to cannabis plants," wrote a spokeswoman for B.C.'s Ministry of Public Safety & Solicitor General.

"We are asking people to take reasonable precautions to protect children and youth from cannabis, similar to the precautions they would take to protect children and youth from the harms of prescription drugs, alcohol, tobacco and other harmful products."

In other words, the B.C. government believes this law will prevent young people from beholding marijuana — and presumably, from being inspired to snag it for themselves.

"This is a relatively common requirement in most U.S. jurisdictions that allow home cannabis cultivation," wrote the spokeswoman.

Two final notes for our B.C. readers: First, the law won't make it illegal "for cannabis plants to be visible from a neighbouring private property," according to the spokeswoman.

Second, B.C.'s ban on publicly-visible cannabis plants only applies to plants visible "by an individual unaided by any device other than a device to correct vision."

At the very least, Vancouverites won't have to worry about someone searching for weed plants from their condo balcony with a high-powered telescope.

New on The Leaf

  • Edibles in the interim: The delay in regulations for mass-market cannabis edibles presents an opportunity for some.
  • Extracting more profit from hemp: The ability to sell industrial hemp for cannabidiol extraction could bring a new revenue stream for Canada's hemp farmers.
  • B.C.'s retail weed regime: The government of British Columbia has finally laid out its criteria for private cannabis retailers after legalization.

Elsewhere on the Weed Wide Web

  • How to square a circle: Rachel Browne of VICE News explores how the government of Ontario ended up with its Ontario Cannabis Store logo.
  • Pot garden party: Canadian music festivals are figuring out how to regulate legal cannabis consumption, reports the Globe's Mike Hager.
  • More border woes: U.S. border officers are specifically targeting Canadians who work in the legal cannabis industry for travel bans, reports Perrin Grauer for StarMetro Vancouver.


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