On October 17, 2018, recreational cannabis became legal and available across Canada. As the first G7 nation to do so, it’s fair to say the eyes of the world are firmly fixed on the country as a model for legalization.
A landmark event it may have been, but in reality, this is only the beginning of the legalization process. The laws that went into effect on October 17 are in their infancy, and much is expected to change in the coming years as the Canadian government rolls out further legislation. For now, what the law allows is limited, so it’s important to educate yourself on the current situation to stay compliant.
While recreational cannabis use has been legalized federally in Canada, much of the implementation and decision making has been left to the provinces themselves. This means that the rules are a little different in Ontario compared to Quebec, for example. What the Canadian government has made clear is that it is your responsibility to know what the exact laws are surrounding cannabis in the province you live in or plan to visit. You can find that out on the Canadian government’s official website.
However, there are a great deal of general laws that are more or less the same across the country, so let’s explore what legal cannabis looks like in Canada today.
Cannabis Possession in Canada
The legal age for cannabis possession and use varies from province to province, but it generally mirrors each provinces’ alcohol age, which is between 18 and 19 years old. All Canadians of legal age can possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis in public. Additionally, they are able to share up to 30 grams with another adult of age. Most provinces do not have a limit on how much cannabis you can possess at home, but some do so make sure to check what the laws are in your province. Lastly, Canadians are allowed to grow up to four plants per household in every province except Manitoba and Quebec.
Purchasing Cannabis Legally in Canada
Canadians may purchase plants, seeds, fresh or dried cannabis from a provincial or territory-regulated retailer, or a federally licensed producer. However, as the laws are so new there are actually very few licensed dispensaries that you can buy cannabis from legally at the moment. What is available across the country is online sales from your local province-run dispensary of up to 30 grams per order. This is by far the best option for Canadians looking to buy cannabis legally as the vast majority of Canada’s existing privately-owned dispensaries are currently in a ‘legal gray area.’
Public consumption of cannabis is a contentious issue, and just like the laws, attitudes surrounding cannabis use vary around the country. However, many provinces, like Ontario, have allowed it to be consumed in the same areas as tobacco. So that means cannabis consumption is allowed on the sidewalk and in public parks and spaces, but is not permitted near things like schools and playgrounds. Make sure to check the laws in your area before toking up. Plus, smoking on private property is universally allowed if you’re the property owner.
Flying domestically, Canadians are allowed to carry up to 30 grams of cannabis with them. Leaving the country, however, is a different matter. Crossing Canada’s international border by land, air or sea with cannabis in your possession is highly illegal. If you’re caught on the U.S. border, you could be not only be charged with cannabis possession, but also smuggling goods and importation of a controlled substance, both more serious crimes.
Furthermore, Canadians traveling to the U.S. should be aware of a worrying new trend. U.S. Border Patrol agents may ask you about your cannabis use and if you admit to it, you could well be denied entry, even if you do not have any cannabis in your possession.
Another important area to mention is driving while high. Canadian authorities have ramped up policing on this with stiffer fines and even prison time in the most serious cases. The police also now have the right to take a saliva sample if they suspect you are driving under the influence of cannabis. Any level of THC over two nanograms found in your system will result in serious consequences.
Can non-Canadians visit Canada and buy cannabis? Yes! All the same provincial laws relating to cannabis apply to tourists too. As long as you buy it legally and consume it in Canada, then you are completely fine. However, do expect to see questions about cannabis appear on your declaration forms when entering the country and as mentioned before, do not attempt to leave Canada with it in your possession.
Edibles and Concentrates
Unfortunately for cannabis concentrate enthusiasts, both edibles and concentrates remain unavailable for sale to consumers – although government officials have claimed they will be legal for purchase one year after the initial launch date of October 17, 2018. What is legal however, is for Canadians to produce their own edibles, tinctures and concentrates as long as no organic solvents are used in the process.
This is where solventless Rosintech comes to the rescue. For Canadian concentrate enthusiasts, the best legal option is to buy flower online and then press your own rosin with the Rosin Tech Go™, Twist™ or Smash™. Right now, this is the only legal option available to Canadian dabbers and vapers.
While the laws as they stand currently are very restrictive, there is a great deal to look forward to in the coming years. The Canadian government has made it clear that they want to do regulate cannabis successfully, and that means it will take time for all the planned legislation to come into effect. One thing is for certain though, Canada has taken the single largest step towards full legalization than any other country in the world. And that should be celebrated. Happy 10/17 everyone!