Alcohol retail liability unlikely to change with Cannabis Act

Published: September 6, 2018

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Canada is moving closer to marijuana legalization for recreational use, with the Cannabis Act to become law on Oct. 17. One key question left unanswered is how will retail locations selling alcohol handle customers who may have already consumed marijuana?

It is a question Mouna Hanna has asked. A defence lawyer with Toronto-based Dolden Wallace Folick LLP, Hanna offers the following scenario:

“What if an individual comes in already smelling of marijuana and the bartender is unsure what their level of impairment is? At what point do you refuse service, or cut it off and ask someone to leave?”

Hanna was speaking at the Canadian Claims Summit, a Canadian Independent Adjusters’ Association event held in Toronto. She said

She made her remarks last week during the Canadian Claims Summit, hosted by the Canadian Independent Adjusters’ Association in Toronto. Hanna suggests there will be no change liability for retailers:

“Based on the claims I have seen so far, from a liquor liability standpoint, bartenders and servers are already looking for signs of impairment caused by marijuana, caused by cocaine, caused by any sorts of substances, so their minds are already turned to it,” Hanna said during the summit.

“I think there is going to be a heightened response or heightened awareness that you need to be looking for it if you haven’t already,” Hanna added. “I suspect at most they will require servers and bartenders to undergo more training or to redo their smart serve but I don’t think the standard of care is going to change.”

The Cannabis Act will allow Canadians to possess up to 30 grams of pot for recreational purposes. Medical marijuana has been legal in the country since 1999.