Legal Cannabis in Canada: Your Guide to the Great White North's New Weed Laws

Legal Cannabis in Canada: Your Guide to the Great White North's New Weed Laws

by Madison Margolin
|
NEWS
|

Canada just became the second country on Earth to legalize marijuana nationwide — but where can you buy and smoke it?

Lead photo via Cannabis Culture

With Canada launching its legal cannabis program on October 17th, citizens and tourists alike may be wondering how exactly pot legalization will play out in the Great White North. Americans from prohibition states looking to cross the border for a good time with ganja may be curious about what kinds of goodies to expect, and if they can bring them back home (don't try that), while those from greener states may be curious if Canada's legal market will be any better than what we've got in California, Colorado, or any other 420-friendly jurisdiction. 

Just like in legal weed states in America, local municipalities in Canada have the authority to set their own rules around marijuana. Provinces and territories have mostly figured out how cannabis will be distributed and sold within their own regions, including where stores may be located and how they must operate. Local governments also have some autonomy regarding whether to add further restrictions around possession limits, minimum age for consumption, public cannabis use, and home cultivation of marijuana plants.

All Canadian citizens and visitors over the age of 18 (or 19 in some jurisdictions, and potentially even 21 in Quebec) will be allowed to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis flower or an equivalent quantity of oil  (more on that below)  at any given time. All that said, if you're visiting our northern neighbor, keep your Canadian stash in Canada. Smuggling weed across the border without an export permit is a serious offense that could land you in prison for more than a dozen years.

Nonetheless, you'll be able to enjoy a modest wealth of pot options on Canadian soil. In the first year of the legal program, the array of available products includes cannabis flower (in whole buds or pre-ground), oils, capsules, pre-rolled joints, and seeds. In some cases, you may also be able to buy a whole plant from either a licensed producer or a store that sells it. Notice something missing? That's right — you won’t not be able to purchase edibles and concentrates until at least October 2019. It may be worth the wait, however, as Canadian companies gear up this year to develop high-end products for next year’s market.

1539791572037_iStock-852944498.jpg

Happy Weed Day, Canada! Photo via iStock

Once concentrates and edibles hit the market, you'll be able to purchase up 450 grams (that is, up to 45 100-mg items). If you'd rather drink your weed, come 2019, you'll also be able to purchase up to 2,100 grams (or a six-pack) of infused beverages. Until then, everything else you buy must legally equate to those 30 grams of dried bud: that means you’re allowed to pick up 7.5 grams of cannabis oil, or 30 seeds to grow your own cannabis plants.

If you're looking to work on your green thumb, Canada's federal legalization law allows residents to grow up to four cannabis plants per household. However Manitoba and Quebec have opted out of this provision, meaning retail stores are the only legal option for pot in these provinces.

If you're caught possessing more pot than legally allowed, you can be subject to a $200 ticket (in Canadian dollars) or jail time, depending on how much you’re holding. Also remember that if you’re caught with THC in your system during a traffic violation (or within two hours of driving), you may be subject to a fine (up to $1000 for between two and five nanograms THC per milliliter of blood) or a DUI charge resulting in jail time. 

The cannabis retail system itself will also vary among the provinces and territories. The majority of western Canada has authorized private cannabis sales, while the eastern provinces are looking more to government-run dispensaries. On the first day of legalization, some retail outlets will be open to the public such as in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Quebec, while in other jurisdictions, sales will only be online. And while the federal legislation that legalized cannabis to begin with allows for home cultivation, a handful of provinces like Manitoba or Quebec have outlawed it. 

To navigate the ins and outs of legal cannabis in Canada, here's a list to clarify what's allowed where starting Wednesday, October 17th, according to the rules of each province or territory:

Alberta

Minimum consumption age: 18
Public consumption: Banned wherever smoking cigarettes is banned. Some hotel rooms may allow for cannabis consumption.
Number of licensed producers: 6
Who can sell cannabis online and IRL: Private retailers will be licensed to sell, in addition to government-run dispensaries, but only the province will manage online sales.
Number of vendors open on day one: 17

British Columbia

Minimum consumption age: 19
Public consumption: Not allowed wherever tobacco vaping/smoking is also prohibited, as well as in playgrounds, sports fields, skateparks, and other places where children gather.
Number of licensed producers: 31
Who can sell cannabis online and IRL: Private retailers will be licensed to sell, in addition to government-run dispensaries, but only the province will manage online sales.
Number of vendors open on day one:

1539791732795_iStock-901654082.jpg

Suprisingly, Vancouver, B.C. won't have any legal pot stores open on day one, with the province's only open outlet debuting in Kamloops. Photo via iStock

Manitoba

Minimum consumption age: 19
Public consumption: Prohibited
Number of licensed producers: 2
Who can sell cannabis online and IRL: Private dispensaries and distributors will be licensed by the Liquor, Gaming, and Cannabis Authority. Online sales will be controlled by private sector retailers.
Number of vendors open on day one: At least 4
Important notes: Home cultivation prohibited 

New Brunswick

Minimum consumption age: 19
Public consumption: Prohibited
Number of licensed producers: 3
Who can sell cannabis online and IRL: The New Brunswick Liquor Corporation will open up to 20 government-run dispensaries within the province. Online cannabis sales will be controlled by the government.
Number of vendors open on day one: 20

Newfoundland and Labrador

Minimum consumption age: 19
Public consumption: Prohibited
Number of licensed producers: 0
Who can sell cannabis online and IRL: There will be a limited number of privately-owned dispensaries, in addition to online sales managed by the government.
Number of vendors open on day one: 24

Northwest Territories

Minimum consumption age: 19
Public consumption: Prohibited
Number of licensed producers: 0
Who can sell cannabis online and IRL: Cannabis sales will be managed by the government and take place out of government-run liquor stores. The government will also manage online sales.
Number of vendors open on day one: Weed will be sold out of liquor stores (so that’s convenient). 

1539791941413_iStock-971038934.jpg

Why not try growing your own pot? All provinces except Manitoba or Quebec will allow it starting October 17th. Photo via iStock

Nova Scotia

Minimum consumption age: 19
Public consumption: Prohibited wherever tobacco is prohibited
Number of licensed producers: 3
Who can sell cannabis online and IRL: Cannabis will be sold at a dozen government-run retailers, and online.
Number of vendors open on day one: 12 

Nunavut

Minimum consumption age: 19
Public consumption: Not allowed
Number of licensed producers: 0
Who can sell cannabis online and IRL: There will only be online sales.
Number of vendors open on day one:

Ontario

Minimum consumption age: 19
Public consumption: Allowed, except within 20 meters of where children gather, dormitories, or public gathering halls that disallow it — mainly limited to sidewalks and parks.
Number of licensed producers: 59
Who can sell cannabis online and IRL: Privately-owned dispensaries are due to open by April, but at the outset cannabis will be available for purchase online via a government monopoly.
Number of vendors open on day one:

Prince Edward Island

Minimum consumption age: 19
Public consumption: Prohibited
Number of licensed producers: 1
Who can sell cannabis online and IRL: There will be four government-owned stores, as well as a government monopoly on online sales.
Number of vendors open on day one:

1539792259539_iStock-486894504.jpg

Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario will allow cannabis use in certain public spaces where tobacco smoking is already permitted. Photo via iStock

Quebec

Minimum consumption age: 18
Public consumption: Prohibited where it's also prohibited to smoke tobacco, in addition to the grounds of health and social service institutions, universities, bike paths, and bus/public transportation shelters.
Number of licensed producers: 8
Who can sell cannabis online and IRL: At the outset, there will be 20 government-run dispensaries. The government will also manage online sales.
Number of vendors open on day one: 12
Important notes: Home cultivation prohibited 

Saskatchewan 

Minimum consumption age: 19
Public consumption: Prohibited
Number of licensed producers: 4
Who can sell cannabis online and IRL: For the first three years of the program, there will be 51 private retailers, issued permits by the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority. Online sales will also be managed privately.
Number of vendors open on day one: 4

Yukon

Minimum consumption age: 19
Public consumption: Prohibited
Number of licensed producers: 0
Who can sell cannabis online and IRL: There will only be one government-run store in Yukon's main city of Whitehorse. Residents of more distant communities will be able to purchase cannabis online.
Number of vendors open on day one:

Within the scope of Canada's legal cannabis framework, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is responsible for collecting taxes on marijuana products, a spokesperson from the CRA explains to MERRY JANE.  "The CRA is licensing producers of cannabis products who will pay the excise duty on products when they are delivered for retail sale. Licensed producers are required to apply an excise stamp to their cannabis products indicating that the product was legally produced, and the applicable excise duty has been paid. Consumers can expect to see that the excise stamp on the products they purchase also indicates the intended jurisdiction of sale." Of course, the costs of these taxes will be passed down to everyday cannabis users, meaning Canadians and visitors can expect to pay local taxes ranging from 5% to 15% (aside from the 2.5 percent federal tax rate) for legal pot, depending on the province or territory where they’re making the purchase. 

1539792541609_9255785513_9e9e700846_o.jpg

 All this bud is finally legal! Photo via Cannabis Culture

To Americans living in canna-legal states, paying taxes on pot is all too common. However, a distinguishing feature of Canadian legalization in some provinces allows cannabis use in certain public spaces where tobacco smoking is already permitted. Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario (Canada’s most populous province) lead the pack in this regard, with both allowing public toking under specific guidelines. Meanwhile south of the border in green states, cannabis consumers can only legally consume on private property. While there are a few on-site consumption lounges cropping up, many U.S. users who rent their homes worry about whether they can smoke in their own private residence, or risk eviction. Canada’s requirement that cannabis consumption of any kind — as well as the placement of cannabis retailers — be a certain distance from schools or places where children may gather is also a familiar rule, but Canada also generally has a lower age limit (21 for adult-use marijuana in the States, versus 18 or 19 for Canucks). 

In contrast to certain U.S. states, the limit on cultivators and retailers that many Canadian provinces or territories have implemented is a far cry from places like Oregon, which is now facing an oversupply of cannabis feeding the black market — a problem which Canada's legal program specifically aims to undercut. 

While certain territories or provinces may be further ahead than others within Canada's legal cannabis scheme, all in all, federal legalization places Canada at the forefront of the global cannabis movement, positioning the country to make headway in science and international exports, while leaving national prohibition regimes (like America's) in the dust.


avatar

Published on

Madison is a New York/Los Angeles-based writer who specializes in cannabis coverage. Her work has been featured in Playboy, the LA Weekly, and other publications.


The Latest Vids

floating ad anchor
I'm looking for
I'm looking for

Articles
No results

Goods
No results

Dispensaries
No results

Authors
No results

Brands
No results

Deliveries
No results