Canada is in the last stretch of its legalization process for recreational marijuana. Canadians are responsible for understanding all of the rules and regulations that will be enforced with the new legislation. Here's what you need to know:
What are adults in Canada allowed to legally do under the Cannabis Act once it is passed?
Adults in Canada will be able to:
- Purchase fresh or dried cannabis, cannabis oil, plants and seeds from a provincial or territorial retailer
- Possess up to 30 g of dried cannabis or equivalent in public
- Share up to 30 g of legal cannabis with other adults
- Cultivate up to 4 plants in their own residence
- Alter cannabis into varyiing types of products (e.g. edibles)
When will recreational marijuana be officially legalized in Canada?
- On June 7, 2018, the Senate will vote on Bill C-45, the act which would legalize the use and purchase of recreational marijuana for individuals over 18. Once the bill is passed, it is then required to receive Royal Assent in order for it to officially become a part of the law of Canada. Until then, recreational marijuana will remain illegal and current laws still apply.
When can adults in Canada be able to legally use and purchase marijuana?
- Adult Canadians can use recreational marijuana once the proposed Cannabis Act has been brought into force. However, the provinces have agreed that they will require 8 to 12 weeks between the time the bill receives Royal Assent and when the new laws come into effect in order to properly transition into the new framework. That being said, provincially-authorized retailers of marijuana will not be immediately available after Bill C-45 receives Royal Assent. The Government of Canada intends to authorize the legal sale of marijuana products no later than 12 months after legalization.
Where can adults in Canada buy recreational marijuana?
- The sale of recreational marijuana is determined at the provincial level, so it will depend on where you are in Canada. For example, in Ontario, it will be sold at 40 provincially-run shops, while in Alberta, it will only be sold by private retailers across the province. Most of the other provinces and territories will employ a mix of these approaches.
How do I know what product I'm buying?
- Marijuana products will be sold in packaging that is compliant with guidelines set out by Health Canada. All packaging must include the name of the producer, the name of the marijuana strain, and the THC/CBD levels. There will also be disclaimers and warnings regarding the health risks associated with smoking marijuana.
Can I grow my own plants?
- Adult Canadians will be allowed to cultivate up to 4 plants per residence, regardless of the number of persons living there. They would be responsible for taking the appropriate precautions to protect young persons in the same way they do with home-stored prescription medications and alcohol. The 4-plant limit cannot be transferred or designated. The provinces may also impose their own restrictions on personal cultivation.
Will the sale of edibles be allowed?
- Yes, cannabis edible products and concentrates have been added to the list of products permitted for legal sale. However, it will take some time to develop a proper regulatory system for such products, so adults in Canada may not have access to them immediately after legalization. As previously mentinoed, the Government of Canada is aiming for no longer than 12 months to authorize the legal sale of marijuana products.
What are the equivalencies for the 30 gram limit?
- Canada has based its equivalencies on those established in U.S. states like Colorado and Washington where the sale of cannabis is already regulated. One gram of dried cannabis is equivalent to:
- 5 g fresh cannabis
- 15 g edible product
- 70 g liquid product
- 0.25 g solid or liquid concentrates
- 1 cannabis plant seed
How will the youth be protected under the new legislation?
- The Cannabis Act will enforce:
- A prohibition against providing or selling cannabis to the youth
- The creation of a new offence of employing minors to distribute, sell, import, export or produce cannabis
- Using the same advertising restrictions in place for tobacco products
- Prohibit the sale of cannabis through self-service displays
- Requiring child-proof packaging and warning symbols
Can I smoke in public?
- Marijuana will be subject to similar restrictions as public smoking. Across most of the country, smoking marijuana legally may be limited to one's home. Landlords may also be able to ban smoking in their residences in the same way that they can ban tobacco, but this will be determined on a provincial level.
Can i smoke marijuana at my place of work?
- Impairment in the workplace is a major concern. While the issue is still an ongoing topic among federal, provincial and territorial Ministers of Labour, it only makes sense that cannabis use should not be tolerated in workplaces in the same way that alcohol use is not. However, at the end of the day, the employer has the final authority on drug policy in the workplace.
Will those with prior convictions be granted amnesty after the law is passed?
- Currently, the government is still considering amnesty for single possession charges. However, those convicted of trafficking charges are not being considered for such.
What are the criminal penalties under the Cannabis Act?
As listed on the Government of Canada website, the criminal penalties under the Cannabis Act are as follows:
Is there a blood THC limit like there is a blood alcohol limit, or is driving high completely illegal?
- Driving impaired is illegal, therefore driving high is illegal. If you are found with THC levels of 5 nanograms per mL of blood, you could be penalized with:
- a minimum fine of $1,000 for the first offence,
- a minimum 30 days of imprisonment for a second offence, and
- a minimum of 120 days in jail for third and subsequent offences
- If you kill someone while driving high, you could face anywhere from two years to live behind bars. Bill C-46, an impaired driving act currently being considered, may make these penalities even harsher if it is passed.
Can I travel to the U.S. if I smoke legal marijuana in Canada?
- Currently, marijuana remains illegal at the federal level in the U.S., even though some states have legalized it. Border police could therefore refuse entry to persons who they determine is a user, producer or distributer of marijuana.
- Once recreational marijuana is legalized in Canada, border police will no longer be able to refuse entry to adult Canadians who use it. However, they could still ban travel for those who admit to have used or possessed marijuana before the law was passed, or if they have a professional connction to the legitimized marijuana industry.