Executive Council,
Justice and Public Safety,
Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation

November 23, 2017

Provincial Government Releases First Details on Cannabis Legalization in Newfoundland and Labrador

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador provided the first details today on how cannabis legalization will look in the province in July 2018, the timeframe the Federal Government has set for implementation.

Three key policies announced include:

  • The legal age to purchase and possess cannabis in Newfoundland and Labrador will be 19 years - in line with alcohol;
  • Place of use will be restricted to private residences; and
  • Private retailers will be used to sell cannabis.

Those policy details were provided at a news conference by the Honourable Andrew Parsons, Minister of Justice and Public Safety and Attorney General, the Honourable Tom Osborne, Minister of Finance, and the Honourable Christopher Mitchelmore, Minister of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation.

In addition, amendments to the Liquor Corporation Act will go to second reading today in the House of Assembly to grant the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation (NLC) the necessary authority to ensure there is a legal and safe supply of cannabis available to interested consumers next July. The amendments enable the NLC to:

  • Buy, import and sell cannabis;
  • Control the possession, sale and delivery of cannabis;
  • Establish, maintain and operate cannabis stores;
  • Issue licences for the possession, sale and delivery of cannabis;
  • Determine the forms, manner and fee associated with licences for cannabis; and
  • Set prices of cannabis.

With approval of the amendments to the Liquor Corporation Act, a Request for Proposals will be issued to identify private retailers interested in selling cannabis.

The legislative amendments and policies announced today come after considerable public consultation. The province has also examined what other jurisdictions are doing, and have spoken with many community groups, health professionals, business organizations and others.

These policies will promote public health and safety, discourage use of cannabis by youth, encourage responsible use by adults, keep the profits from the sale of cannabis out of the hands of criminals, and reduce the burden on the criminal justice system.

Additional legislation to enact the policy announcements and to support other elements of the overall framework will be introduced into the House of Assembly in spring 2018.

The Provincial Government remains in active discussion with other provinces and territories, and the Government of Canada, with regard to matters related to the legalization of cannabis. 

“The legalization of non-medical cannabis is a significant policy change for our province and the rest of Canada. Here, we will be implementing legislation and regulations that factor into account the unique characteristics of Newfoundland and Labrador with an emphasis on public safety and health. I look forward to continuing the conversation on cannabis with my provincial and territorial counterparts as well as the Federal Government over the coming months.”
Honourable Dwight Ball
Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador

“Cannabis use is not without serious health and public safety risks and, as a government, we need to be vigilant in ensuring all who legally choose to use it do so responsibly. We have made good progress with our preparations on cannabis and will be ready for full implementation of its legalization next summer.”
Honourable Andrew Parsons
Minister of Justice and Public Safety and Attorney General

“The amendments to the Liquor Corporation Act announced today will allow government to establish a retail and distribution network for the sale of cannabis. The Federal Government’s proposed 50/50 sharing of taxation revenue is inadequate and we are pressing for a more equitable arrangement aligned with actual cost burdens.”
Honourable Tom Osborne
Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board

“There is potential for Newfoundland and Labrador to benefit economically from the legalization of cannabis. Consumers will be able to safely access and use the product while allowing opportunities for private business to benefit.”
Honourable Christopher Mitchelmore
Minister of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation

- 30 -

Learn more
Provincial Government Releases Results of Cannabis Consultation - www.gov.nl.ca/releases/2017/just/0824n01.aspx

To learn more about the current status of cannabis laws in Canada, and the work being done to legalize and regulate it, visit the Government of Canada’s online resource - www.canada.ca/en/services/policing/justice/legalization-regulation-marijuana.html External Link Icon

To read about the work of the Federal Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation - healthycanadians.gc.ca/task-force-marijuana-groupe-etude/index-eng.php?_ga=2.199745390.1556850026.1496752844-1053042856.1489169506 External Link Icon

Follow us on Twitter: @GovNL External Link Icon@JPS_GovNL External Link Icon@FIN_GovNL External Link Icon and @TCII_GovNL External Link Icon


Media contacts
Michelle Cannizzaro
Office of the Premier

Lesley Clarke
Justice and Public Safety
709-729-6985, 699-2910

Marc Budgell
709-729-2477, 689-0430

Eric Humber 
Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation
709-729-4819, 725-9655


Details on the legalization of non-medical cannabis in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Federal Legislation
The decision to legalize cannabis by July 2018 was made by the Federal Government. The proposed federal Cannabis Act would create a strict legal framework for controlling the production, distribution, sale and possession of cannabis across Canada.

The federal act seeks to:

  • Restrict youth access to cannabis;
  • Protect young people from promotion or enticements to use cannabis;
  • Deter and reduce criminal activity by imposing serious criminal penalties for those breaking the law, especially those who import, export or provide cannabis to youth;
  • Protect public health through strict product safety and quality requirements;
  • Reduce the burden on the criminal justice system;
  • Provide for the legal production of cannabis to reduce illegal activities;
  • Allow adults to possess and access regulated, quality controlled legal cannabis; and
  • Enhance public awareness of the health risks associated with cannabis.

The current program for accessing cannabis for medical purposes would continue under the new act.

Even though this was a federal decision, many aspects of legalization are within the jurisdiction of the provinces and territories.

Under the Federal Government’s proposal, it will retain control over the licensing of cannabis production. The provinces and territories will have responsibility for licensing and regulating retail and distribution of non-medical cannabis.


Newfoundland and Labrador Framework
Newfoundland and Labrador and the other provinces and territories are working to meet the Federal Government’s time frame and to be ready for implementation next summer.

The Provincial Government was one of the first provinces to hold public consultations on the legalization and regulation of cannabis. Those consultations received almost 2,600 responses to an online questionnaire and had approximately 120 stakeholder representatives attend in-person meetings. Government has also conducted considerable research on the issue, examined what other jurisdictions in Canada are doing, and officials have spoken with many community groups, health professionals, business organizations and others.

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has decided on some of the framework governing cannabis:

  • The legal age to purchase and possess cannabis will be 19 years. This is consistent with the approach to the purchase and possession of alcohol.
  • The use of cannabis for recreational purposes shall be restricted to private residences and shall not be used in public places, in vehicles, or in workplaces.
  • A comprehensive, multifaceted public education and awareness program will be used to ensure that residents, and particularly parents, youth, drivers, employers and employees understand the serious risks associated with cannabis use.
  • A retail and distribution model has been developed.
  • Additional work is ongoing and will require more legislation to be introduced in the House of Assembly in the spring.

The Provincial Government does not believe the Federal Government’s proposal of a 50/50 spilt on taxation revenues is sufficient and will continue to dialogue and insist on a fairer distribution of taxation revenues aligned with the actual cost burdens.

Newfoundland and Labrador Retail and Distribution Model
The sale of cannabis will be done through private retailers licensed by the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation (NLC), who has experience, resources and infrastructure to be the regulator and distributor. The NLC will control the possession, sale and delivery of cannabis, and set prices for cannabis products.

At the outset, the NLC will be the online retailer of cannabis. It will establish a trusted online location for the purchase of cannabis products to compete with out-of-province online sales. In time, licenses for online sales may be issued to qualified applicants.

There may be instances and areas of the province where private retailers have no interest in operating. In such cases, the NLC may fill this role.

This model provides flexibility to adapt to a maturing market in terms of price, volume and product preference in the future, while allowing for a retail system to be in place by July 2018.

The NLC will invite applications from private retailers interested in selling cannabis. There is no intention to co-locate cannabis and alcohol. Such situations will only be considered in extenuating circumstances.

2017 11 23                                                    12:30 p.m.