Yes, you read it right. Recreational marijuana is now legal in all of Canada. It’s the second country in the world as well as the first G7 nation to do so. The first country to legalize the production, distribution/sale, and use of marijuana is Uruguay which happened back in 2013. Despite what people believe, pot is actually illegal in the Netherlands; it’s just tolerated. You won’t be prosecuted for possession or growing marijuana but it can still be seized by the police.
As for the US, only a handle of states (9 states + the District of Columbia) allow the use of recreational marijuana while only 30 states allow the use of medical marijuana in some form. However, according to federal law, marijuana in any form is still illegal.
How did the legalization of cannabis in Canada come about?
The Cannabis Act was officially implemented on October 17, 2018. Now, the use of marijuana for medical purposes has been legal in the country since 2001. This new federal legislation does not affect the medical marijuana system or the 330,000 or so Canadians who are licensed to get weed.
So, why did Canada legalize the production, sale, and use of recreational marijuana? Well, the rationale for the implementation of the Cannabis Act is to help curb the illegal multi-billion dollar trade of weed in the country. There are hundreds of illegal dispensaries across the country and the objective of the law is to keep the profits out of the pockets of criminals. It is also to ensure the product safety and quality, and protect the youth by restricting their access to weed.
What do Canadians think about marijuana usage?
A lot of Canadians are excited about this “social experiment” which will strongly impact the cultural and economic aspects of the nation. The long lines and honking car horns on the first day of implementation are proof positive that a majority of Canadians are celebrating this historic event.
However, amidst the enthusiasm, there are still some who are cautious about this new public policy. Some believe that this may negatively impact the health of Canadians because it may lead to increased marijuana use. Under this new law, an adult can carry up to 30 grams of dried cannabis which roughly translates to 60 regular-size joints. Some are asking how the police will be testing drivers who may possibly be high. Others are talking about the lack of appropriate public dissemination of information about the risk of using weed such as addiction and the effect on those with significant mental health issues.
Where can you buy marijuana?
While you can buy recreational marijuana in all provinces of Canada, there are some limitations on who will sell them. Some provinces will only allow government-run stores (either online, physical, or both) to sell weed while other provinces will only have private stores. Some will have a mixture of both. Don’t expect marijuana to be sold in stores that also sell alcohol or tobacco.
What is the legal smoking age?
In most Canadian provinces, the legal age for marijuana is 19 with the exception of Quebec and Alberta which puts the legal age at 18. The age requirement may change as provinces are allowed to increase the limit. Selling or giving cannabis to youth (those under the legal age requirement) is a criminal offense with a maximum penalty of 14 years in jail.
How much marijuana can you own?
According to federal law, an individual can possess up to 30 grams of dried legal cannabis or its equivalent in non-dried form. You can also share the same amount with other adults. 30 grams is roughly equal to 60 joints of normal size.
Aside from being allowed to possess and share marijuana with other adults, you can also become a pot cultivator – for your own personal use, of course. Based on federal law, an adult can grow up to four cannabis plants per household. However, provinces and territories still have the ability to add restrictions on personal cultivation. For example, Manitoba and Quebec have banned personal cultivation while British Columbia requires you to ensure that your plants cannot be viewed from a public place; they should be far away from a streetside window or backyard fence. Anyone who does not follow this added restriction will be fined 5,000 Canadian dollars or spend three months in jail.
Are there any restrictions on recreational marijuana use?
Only fresh or dried seeds, flower, plants, and oil are considered legal in Canada. Also, the level of THC (what gives you that buzz) in legal marijuana will be lower compared to black market products. Edibles and concentrates that are infused with cannabis will not be legal until next year.
Another restriction is travel. While you can use marijuana inside Canada, you cannot enter or leave the country with it. You may face criminal charges if you get caught. The same can be said if you are going from Canada to one of the states in the US that have legalized marijuana use.
Can you smoke marijuana in public places?
Also, don’t expect to be able to smoke marijuana in all public places. Just like the limitations placed on drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco, you will need to check with the regulations of the province on where the designated toking zones are. For example, in Ontario and British Columbia, you’re allowed to smoke weed in the same places that people are allowed to smoke cigarettes. However, in British Columbia, that means no smoking in parks or community beaches. In Ontario, smoking cigarettes is allowed in both streets and parks. So, if you’re hoping that there are going to be pot cafes in Canada just like the ones you find in Amsterdam, then you’re bound to be disappointed.
Smoking weed in the workplace is also illegal but how this policy will be enforced will depend on the type of job you have. Individuals who operate heavy machinery, airline pilots, soldiers, and police officers each have their own restrictions. For example, off-duty officers of the Calgary Police Service are not allowed to use pot while those in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police will not allow officers to use marijuana within 28 days of reporting for a shift.
Last, but definitely not the least, it is illegal to drive while high. Driving under the influence of marijuana will cost you a fine of at least 1,000 Canadian dollars. You may also face up to 5 years in jail.
What does this mean for Canada’s economy?
Because cannabis has been legalized, Canada’s economy is expected to boom over the next few years. In fact, the marijuana industry is estimated to become worth 6.5 million Canadian dollars (US $5 billion) by 2020 due to the expected increase of pot tourists from the US. A lot of companies are now hoping to capitalize on this billion dollar industry in some way. Some are creating their own greenhouse complexes for the production of marijuana. Others are creating software to help growers track plant growth and meet the requirements of the government. There is even going to be a daily newsletter, “Cannabis Professional,” produced by The Globe and Mail that will cost 2,000 Canadian dollars for a yearly subscription.