It's finally here, Canada. Can't you just smell it? While today seems like it could be filled with nothing more than smokey rainbows and red-eyed butterflies, we've got some more serious stuff to consider here.
We asked a Toronto-based cannabis lawyer, Harrison Jordan, all of your burning questions about legalization, from knowing your rights with police officers, marijuana-related ticketing, how to handle yourself at the US border, and smoking up at work.
Here are all the things you need to know as a legal cannabis smoking Canadian.
Getting Pulled Over By Police
First things first, driving high is super dumb and super illegal, so just don't do it. Police all over Ontario are running multiple RIDE programs across the province this week to crack down on being high behind the wheel.
In a release, Ottawa police had this to say to those who are caught driving high - “If you are charged with driving impaired by drugs, you face the same consequences as driving impaired by alcohol, which are a 90 days driver’s license suspension, a seven-day vehicle impoundment, and criminal charges.”
Jordan let us in on some advice for drivers going through RIDE checks. First of all, he says never lie to a police officer. If they have a reason to think you might be high, they will ask if you've consumed cannabis recently and you should answer truthfully.
For non-smokers, the answer is a breeze. "If you're not impaired, you don't smell like cannabis, your eyes aren't red or there aren't any clues that would show an officer that you're impaired then they really don't have the reasonable grounds to ask," Jordan said.
For those who do smoke, that's when it could become a problem. Jordan suggests that drivers make sure they are certain they're not feeling the effects of marijuana before getting behind the wheel.
"They do have the right to take your oral fluid swab if they have reasonable grounds to believe there's a drug in your system," Jordan said, along with blood tests. This includes if you admit to them you've smoked that day.
The current limit allowed for marijuana in someone's system while driving is very small, at two nanograms. Like alcohol, different amounts of pot can affect everyone differently. So consumers have to be careful when deciphering if they're okay to drive.
Even if a driver doesn't feel high, if an oral swab or blood test reveals they have more than 2 nanograms of cannabis in their system they can be charged. Researchers at McGill University discovered that depending on the amount of pot consumed, effects can last anywhere from five to 24 hours.
Officers asking if you've smoked within the day is one thing, however, asking about your cannabis use, in general, is another. Jordan says you really have no obligation to tell an officer about your use. As long as you're not driving high, it's really none of their business. You can politely decline their questions.
Proof of legal sales
If you purchased weed from the black market and a cop catches you with it in public, what happens? According to Jordan, as long as it's under the legal possession limit of 30 grams, then not much. There's really no official way for police to tell where you got your stash from - as long as it's under the limit, they won't have reason to look into it.
If you're carrying more than 30 grams, on the other hand, they have the right ask more questions and probe into the situation.
The most prominent form of ticketing for marijuana offenses is likely going to come from those who get caught carrying more than 30-50 grams in public. Large amounts could result in up to 5 years in jail, according to the Government of Canada.
If you do get a ticket and pay it, it will not go on your record. However, if you decide not to pay up, it will land on your record.
Getting across the border
We've all heard the drama that US border officials could ban Canadians from the country for life if they catch wind of their cannabis use. According to Jordan, they definitely do have the right to ask you questions about this and just like police, you should never lie to them.
If a border official does find out that you've purchased weed, they can take action to ban you. However, if this becomes an issue, Jordan says you can actually withdraw your application into the US to avoid trouble. However, it is up to the officers involved whether or not the withdraw will go through.
Smoking pot at work
Legally, as long as you're in an area where marijuana smoking is permitted, you can light up wherever you want.
However, it's company policies you need to adhere to if you want to keep your job. If your boss wouldn't want you walking into the office after lunch all red-eyed and dopey, I'd say leave the pipe at home while you're at work.
So there you have it Canada, know your rights and happy smoking!
Source: CBC, Ottawa Citizen
More from the Canadian Cannabis Legalization series:
- A Neighbourhood In Toronto Just Completely Banned Smoking Marijuana In Public
- We Bought 30 Grams Of Legal Weed Online In Ontario And We Learned Some Very Concerning Things
- The Toronto Neighbourhood With The Most Pot Smokers Was Just Revealed And It's Not At All Where You Thought It Would Be
- This Is What You Need To Know For Marijuana Use By Province In Canada After October 17th
- The Canadian Province With The Most Pot Smokers Was Just Revealed And It's Not At All Who You Thought It Would Be