What the government’s cannabis legalization bill, Bill C-45 – or the Cannabis Act (Act) — will mean for business owners, landlords, employees and employers (and all Canadians in general, really) has been the subject of much discussion and debate in recent months.

First introduced in April 2017, the legislation seeks to legalize marijuana in Canada by strictly regulating and restricting access to it. Earlier this month, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health completed its study of the Act and recommended three changes to the government’s proposals.

3 recommended changes to the Cannabis Act

1) Previous iterations of the Act allowed adults (individuals 18 and up) to grow a maximum of four marijuana plants at home for personal use as long as the plants were limited to 100 centimetres in height. The amendment seeks to remove the height requirement. It is important to note however, that the maximum of four plants is capped per household, not per person, per household.

2) Edible cannabis products and concentrates — such as baked goods, candy, honey and dried fruit — originally excluded from the Act for health and safety reasons, have now been added. The proposed changes, if accepted, would be implemented within 12 months of the Act coming into force. This gives Health Canada enough time to develop a regulatory framework around edibles, including taking into account stakeholder concerns.

3) Once the Act becomes law, intended no later than July 1, 2018, the minister must conduct a review of the Act after three years.

Medical marijuana has been legal in Canada since 2001

While medical marijuana has been legal in Canada since 2001, by this time next year, Canadian adults will be allowed to possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis (or its equivalent), grow their own plants at home and legally buy cannabis in licenced establishments. (In Ontario, the provincial government has determined that marijuana will be sold at standalone cannabis outlets controlled and overseen by the LCBO.)

All provinces, territories and municipalities will continue to develop, implement, maintain and enforce their own systems to oversee the distribution and retail sale of cannabis. It will be important to understand what impact these legislative changes and implementations (that must include at least the minimum conditions imposed in the Act) will have on businesses across the country, in relation to health and safety, zoning, commercial leasing and most areas of business in general.

For example, while the coming into force of the Act will not give employees the right to use cannabis in the workplace freely, employers will need to review and amend their workplace policies and procedures. They may consider including an express policy limiting or restricting the use or possession of cannabis in the workplace, except in the case of medical circumstance.

The Cannabis Act is a fairly dense document, spanning over 200 sections. And while there is a lot to digest, the Act has not yet been passed into law. Stakeholders are still voicing their concerns and changes to the Act and other pieces of legislation are not improbable. As new details, information and changes become available, we’ll continue to share our insights and expertise.