The good news for cannabis users in Canada have a name: The Cannabis Act, aka Bill C-45, this innovative law was first introduced at Parliament more than a year ago and approved on July 1st this year. It’s expected to be fully approved next year, however, there are already some major changes that need to be known by users.
When Bill C-45 comes into force, it won’t be a crime to buy, consume, and grow your own weed in Canada. Adult tourists and residents will be completely allowed to walk into a government-approved store and purchase up to 30 grams of dried or fresh cannabis. Sound great, right?
Where can I buy it?
- Cannabis will remain controlled: sold only at government licensed retailers, and grown only by licensed producers. The details will be developed by the provinces.
- In Alberta, recreational cannabis will be available at more than 200 private retailers, but in Ontario, authorities announced that after October 17, 2018, the provincial Ontario Cannabis Store (OSC) will market the product to the public, strictly online. After April 2019, retail stores will open, operated by the private sector, not by the OSC. The OSC will be the wholesaler; it will also continue online sales as previously, and it will provide an on-line age-verification system, with 19 as the minimum age.
- Municipalities in Ontario will be allowed to opt out of sales through brick-and-mortar stores. According to the local government, the province will provide $40 million over two years to help municipalities cover the expenses related to legal recreational cannabis.
- In Newfoundland and Labrador the situation will be kind of different, you could buy weed at Loblaws grocery stores.
- Manitoba also planned to handle online sales using a public system but would allow retail stores to be operated by the private sector. This plan was developed with the Liquor and Gaming Authority (LGA) to regulate all aspects of the product and the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation (MBLL) to purchase and track the cannabis that was being sold.
- British Columbia, was considering a more flexible system of outlets, including government liquor stores, private liquor stores or other variations of retail operations.
- Extended to all the country, there are some general rules related to promotion, packaging, and advertising. Adult-use marijuana can only be sold in packages of a single colour without graphics other than the logo and a health warning.
- According to the law, cannabis companies won’t be allowed to promote themselves through TV commercials, billboards, or printed ads, sponsor people or events, or put their names on sports and cultural facilities.
- None of the provinces in Canada would allow cannabis to be sold at outlets that also sell alcoholic beverages.
How much can I buy?
Adults are allowed to carry up to 30g of dried cannabis (or its equivalent) in a “public space”, it means that’s all you can buy at any one time. Public space includes your personal vehicle. If authorities see catch you with more than 30gr, you can face up to five years in prison.
Allowed possession and related details by province:
- Alberta: Minimum age: 18 years. No possession limits in private residences.
- British Columbia: Minimum age: 19 years.
- Manitoba: Minimum age: 19 years. Residents can’t grow at home for personal unless they have a medical license.
- New Brunswick: Minimum age: 19 years.
- Newfoundland and Labrador: Minimum age: 19 years.
- Northwest Territories: Minimum age: 19 years. Public use is allowed: on trails, highways, streets, roads and in parks when they are not in use for public events.
- Nova Scotia: Minimum age: 19 years.
- Nunavut: Minimum age:19 years. So far, physical stores haven’t been allowed.
- Ontario: Minimum age:19 years. 150 physical stores will be in operation by 2020. The province plans 40 stores by October 2018.
- Prince Edward Island: Minimum age:19 years.
- Quebec: Minimum age: 18 years. Home storage limit: 150 gr. Public use is allowed anywhere tobacco can be smoked.
- Saskatchewan: Minimum age:19 years.
- Yukon: Minimum age:19 years. At least one cannabis physical store is expected to be opened in Whitehorse in October. Private retailers may be allowed in the future.
What about pre-made edibles?
You won’t be able to buy pre-made edibles or other marijuana extracts until exactly one year after the Cannabis Act comes into effect (2019).
Can it be traded between individuals?
According to the federal government, estimated annual sales will be $4 billion (US $3.2b), so some changes related to taxes might come soon, however, you need to know that cannabis can’t be traded between individuals.
Planning to grow up your own? The Act allows householders to grow up to four cannabis plants, but it won’t be easy for some citizens. Quebec government announced that they won’t allow this option. Quebec is not alone, Manitoba won’t allow householders to grow their own plants. On the other hand, Alberta will allow only indoor growing and New Brunswick will take a similar approach, specifying indoor growing only and in a separate locked space.
Providing marijuana to a minor risks you a $5,000 fine, or up to 14 years in jail. However, minors won’t be charged criminally for sharing up to 5 grams of cannabis between them.
Bill C-45 still imposes punishments for people who continue to operate illegally. Including fines from $5,000 for individuals who break the law or up to $100,000 for “organizations” that do, and up to five years in prison for illegal possession and up to 14 years for illegal cannabis distribution.
So far, it’s unclear whether the hundreds of thousands of people who were charged and convicted of simple cannabis possession under the old law will be granted mass pardons for an offence that’s no longer a crime.
Where can I smoke?
If you are at work, your employer has final authority on drug policy in the workplace.
At home, you can smoke in peace, unless you’re renting. Many provinces (including Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario) are moving to grant landlords the details related to ban smoking weed in their residences as part of the lease, in the same way that they can ban tobacco.
Probably, more changes will come soon, it will depends on every province and how citizens ask for their rights.