canada legalization chart

Cannabis Legalization: A province-by-province guide

With cannabis legalization looming, Canada is gearing up for recreational retail sales, but that doesn’t mean cannabis laws will be the same across the country- far from it- because what the federal government is doing with Bill C-45, aka the Cannabis Act, is basically setting the foundation for legal cannabis, with provinces free to set stricter regulations if they please.

This could lead to a lot of confusion as something that’s legal in one province may not be legal in another, and Trina Fraser from Brazeau Seller Law has put together a handy chart that shows what cannabis legalization looks like province to province, so far.

Let’s have a look at some of the major differences between the provinces and territories below, and for the full chart, please see the end of the article.

Minimum age 

All the provinces and territories have set the minimum age at 19- except for Quebec and Alberta, which set theirs at 18.

Transport restrictions

Many provinces and territories require that cannabis be kept in sealed packaging or otherwise inaccessible to anyone in the car.

Recreational consumption restrictions

Most provinces and territories are placing similar bans on smoking cannabis as there are for tobacco.

Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Newfoundland and Labrador stand out as being particularly strict as they seem to be banning public consumption altogether, while in the Maritimes it’s mostly restricted to private dwellings (or vacant land), and it is mostly the same for the territories as well.

Provincial distributor

The provincial (or territorial) governments will be the sole distributors of cannabis except for Saskatchewan, where it will be private but regulated by the provincial liquor and gaming authority.

Permitted retailers

  • Public
    • Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI, and NWT
  • Public and Private
  • Private
    • Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Yukon

Number of Retail Locations

Ontario starts off with 40, Quebec with 20, New Brunswick with 11, Yukon with 1.

Saskatchewan gets 51, Nova Scotia gets 9, PEI gets 4, and Nunavut gets none in 2018.

Newfoundland and Labrador are expecting 41, Alberta is anticipating 250 in the first year, and there is no cap in BC.

Cannabis sales in the Northwest Territories will begin in liquor stores.

Online sales

 To be handled by the provincial government everywhere except for Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Announced LP supply deals

Manitoba, Quebec, New Brunswick, PEI, and Yukon have inked deals with LPs, and most have signed deals with multiple LPs, except for Manitoba and the Yukon, which have signed with Tilray.

Homegrow restrictions

Manitoba and Quebec have banned home cultivation outright, with most provinces and territories allowing for it under the Cannabis Act.

legalization province canada guide chart